Ramen noodles appear on the tables of college students everywhere, thanks to their cheap price, easy preparation and appealing flavor. While ramen noodles contain a few nutrients the body needs, such as protein and iron, they also deliver a hefty dose of saturated fat and sodium. When making a dinner selection, think twice before you pick up that colorful ramen noodle package.
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Ramen noodles contain quite a bit of fat, with 7 g in a half block serving of noodles, including 3.5 g of saturated fat. While unsaturated fat has beneficial effects on the heart, saturated fat has detrimental effects when consumed in excess. Saturated fat increases "bad" cholesterol in the blood, increasing the risk of heart disease. A half block of noodles fulfills 18 percent of the daily value for saturated fat, based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Ramen noodles contain a fair amount of protein, with 5 g in a serving. Protein is needed to build and repair the body's tissues; in addition, it provides a feeling of fullness after eating, slowing the emptying of food from the stomach. Protein may also be obtained from other foods that contain less saturated fat, such as lean meats, soy and nuts. Because ramen noodles contain some not-so-desirable nutrients, you are wise to make other protein choices.
Ramen noodles are low in fiber, with only 1 g in a half block serving of noodles. This amount is negligible compared to the amount found in other grain foods, such as whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta and brown rice. You need fiber to keep your digestive tract running smoothly, as well as to keep blood cholesterol levels under control. Fiber helps you stay satisfied after eating, and prevents consumption of excess calories.
While ramen noodles contain 8 percent of the daily value for iron, which is needed for the transport of oxygen in the body, they also contain a large amount of sodium, with 33 percent of the daily value in a serving. Sodium consumed in excess has been associated with high blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease. Most Americans consume far too much sodium, which comes mainly from processed foods.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate: Maruchan Ramen Noodles Plain
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats; Jan. 20, 2011
- Harvard School of Public Health: Protein: Moving Closer to Center Stage
- MedlinePlus: Dietary Fiber
- National Institutes of Health; Iron
- American Heart Association: Shake Your Salt Habit
- Maruchan Ramen Noodles