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Ramen Noodles & Chronic Illness

by
author image Mary Earhart
Mary Earhart is a registered nurse, a public health nurse and licensed midwife. Her articles have appeared in professional journals and online ezines. She holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing from California State University at Dominguez Hills. She works in a family practice clinic, has a home birth practice and her specialty is perinatal substance abuse.
Ramen Noodles & Chronic Illness
Ramen noodles in a bowl with chopsticks. Photo Credit tumeyes/iStock/Getty Images

Instant ramen noodles, made from wheat and served with miso or soy-flavored broth, may be eaten to the exclusion of more nutritional fruits and vegetables by college students and others whose diets includes mostly cheap, filling foods. A New York Daily News report on a May 2010 study by Australian researchers states that such frugal dietary practices can put your health at increased risk of chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Sodium

Instant ramen noodles are low in fiber, vitamins and minerals and high in carbohydrates. The package comes complete with seasonings that are typically very salty. Diet Facts displays a ramen label containing 1,562 mg of sodium in two servings, or one package. If you are a healthy adult, the American Heart Association recommends limiting your sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day, which equals less than 1 tsp. of salt. The risks of excess dietary sodium include fluid retention, which can lead to high blood pressure, blood vessel damage and heart disease.

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Fat

Eating a serving of ramen noodles for lunch translates to consuming 8 grams of fat, half of which is saturated fat, according to Diet Facts. Over 36 percent of the meal's calories come from fat. Keep in mind the serving size on the label is half a package, which is probably unrealistic for hungry college students and others who want to fill up on an inexpensive meal. If you eat a whole package instead of the serving size listed on the label, your fat intake will be doubled. The effects of saturated fat include high levels of LDL cholesterol, the type that deposits fatty substance in your arteries, leading to plaque formation and an increased risk of heart attack. Diets high in fat are also linked to weight gain and obesity, which can increase your risks for diabetes and many types of cancer.

Carbohydrates

Ramen noodles are made from highly refined wheat, providing approximately 25 g of carbohydrates and only 1 g of fiber per serving. Such low-fiber carbohydrates are thought to raise blood sugar rapidly and may contribute to insulin resistance in your body's cells, leading to the development of type 2 diabetes. A study by French researchers published in the May 2008 "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that these rapidly absorbed dietary carbohydrates are associated with postmenopausal breast cancer in overweight women. Diets rich in high-fiber whole grains are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Healthy Alternatives

Ramen noodles can still be included in a diet of varied, nutritional foods. To decrease the sodium content, discard all or part of the seasoning packets provided and substitute parsley flakes, garlic powder or onion powder from your pantry. Add vitamin- and fiber-rich vegetables, such as green peas, cabbage or celery. Additional flavor and protein can be provided by bits of lean meat or fish. Also, try sprinkling your soup with sea vegetables, such as kelp or dulse granules, to increase its mineral content.

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References

Demand Media