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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- New York Daily News; Killer Ramen; Rosemary Black; May 2010
- American Heart Association: Shaking the Salt Habit
- Diet Facts: Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup
- "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition"; Carbohydrate Intake, Glycemic Index, Glycemic Load, and Risk of Postmenopausal Breast Cancer in a Prospective Study of French Women; Lajous M., et. al.; May 2008