A traditional Napa cabbage salad contains cabbage, crushed ramen noodles, almonds and sesame seeds, all combined with a dressing based on soy sauce and sugar. While the salad does supply certain nutrients, it can also be quite high in saturated fat, sodium and added sugar. Get all the facts so you can decide if the salad has a place in your healthy eating plan.
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Napa Cabbage Facts
Napa cabbage is low in fat and calories, with almost no sodium if eaten plain. Napa cabbage supplies 0.81 milligrams of iron per cooked cup, which is 10 percent of the 8 milligrams that men need each day, and almost 5 percent of the 18 milligrams that women should get every day. Iron is necessary for a healthy immune system. Napa cabbage also supplies small amounts of potassium and vitamins A and C.
Half a package of ramen noodles without the seasoning contains 178 calories and about 7 grams of fat, of which about 3.3 grams are saturated. Too much saturated fat can cause your cholesterol level to increase, which can raise your risk of heart disease. Sodium is another ingredient that can raise your risk of heart disease, and half a package of the noodles contains 752 milligrams of sodium. That's half of the 1,500 milligrams you should limit yourself to each day, as recommended by the American Heart Association. The redeeming qualities of ramen noodles are the high amounts of iron, niacin and vitamin E they contain.
Almonds and Sesame Seeds
An ounce of almonds contains 164 calories and 14 grams of fat, most of which are heart-healthy unsaturated fats that can help lower your cholesterol. That same ounce of almonds delivers 7.3 milligrams of vitamin E, which is almost half of the 15 milligrams you need each day. Vitamin E protects your cells from damage. Almonds are also a good source of fiber and iron. A tablespoon of sesame seeds in your salad will also add iron, fiber and heart-healthy unsaturated fats.
The traditional dressing for Napa cabbage salad includes oil, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. The soy sauce adds a large amount of sodium to the dressing, and table sugar increases the calorie count of the dressing without contributing any key vitamins and minerals. If you're like many people, you also add the ramen noodle seasoning packet to the dressing, but that adds even more sodium to the salad. Too much sugar or sodium can raise your risk of heart disease.
Putting It All Together
A serving of Napa cabbage salad that's made with a cup of cabbage, half a packet of ramen noodles, an ounce of almonds and a tablespoon of sesame seeds weighs in at 420 calories and about 26 grams of fat, of which about 5 grams are saturated. These numbers are without the dressing, however, which will change the nutritional value depending on how much soy sauce and sugar you use, as well as whether you include the ramen noodle seasoning packet.