I love Maruchan Ramen noodles. Unabashedly. I ate them a lot in high school and I still order them in large batches from Amazon.com. They are fast and filling and warm during the winter months. I figured I was making Ramen more healthy by adding peas and/or carrots and, occasionally, chicken. Ingredients: Ramen Noodle: Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil (Contains One Or More of The Following: Canola, Cottonseed, Palm) Preserved By Tbhq, Salt, Soy Sauce (Water, Wheat, Soybeans, Salt), Potassium Carbonate, Sodium (Mono, Hexameta, and/Or Tripoly) Phosphate, Sodium Carbonate, Turmeric. Soup Base: Salt, Monosodium Glutamate “MSG”, Sugar, Hydrolyzed Corn, Wheat and Soy Protein
More recently, I thought I was really getting ahead of the curve by purchasing Nongshim Spicy Chicken Noodle Bowls. The label says there is no MSG added, and 0 g trans fat (although the Maruchan Ramen does not contain trans fat either.) The Nonghim Noodles have an endorsement by Professional Chefs (a 2011 Chef’s Best Award) and there’s 30% less sodium than their regular product. They come in their individual bowls (yes, each bowl is 2 servings, go figure.) Ingredients: Wheat flour, palm oil, potato starch, modified potato starch, salt,contains less than 2% of each of the following: artificial flavor, beef extract*, beef fat*, beef stock*, black pepper*, calcium phosphate, chicken broth*, corn syrup*, dextrose, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, disodium succinate,dehydrated vegetables (carrot, green onion), garlic*, ginger*, gum arabic, hydrolyzed soy protein, lecithin (soy), malic acid, maltodextrin, modified corn starch, mushroom extract*, natural flavors, onion*, potassium carbonate, red chili pepper*, riboflavin (color), rice*, sand lance concentrate*, seaweed extract*, sodium carbonate, sodium phosphates, soybeans*, spices, sugar, tapioca starch, textured soy protein (soy flour, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, yeast extract), tocopherols (antioxidant), yeast extract, yellow corn flour. *powdered contains wheat, soy, and sand lance. Manufactured in a facility that also processes crustacean shellfish and milk.
Here’s the bad news. Apparently, Ramen isn’t bad for you just because of the sodium. There are a number of articles that noting just how bad Ramen noodles are and how they will kill you. What can you do if you still want Ramen? Most recommendations to make Ramen healthier is to add vegetables, as I have done. One site recommends that once your noodles are a little over halfway cooked, (still al-dente) dump the cooking water out and drain the noodles. Put another 2 cups of water on the stove. (Hey you just discarded a lot of gross starch and a fair amount of fat!).
If you want to read more, here is a good article:
The Street.com – Ramen Noodles May Lead to Chronic Illness: The article uses data from WebMD and, most importantly, findings from a new study by Baylor University. The study was published in The Journal of Nutrition and shows that consumption of instant noodles significantly ups the risk of a scary condition for certain groups of people.
- Cardiometabolic Syndrome – Cardiometabolic syndrome is a scary condition ; a Baylor study found that eating instant noodles two or more times a week was associated with the syndrome, which raises a person’s likelihood of developing heart disease and other conditions, such as diabetes and stroke. Ladies, pay attention to this: Women (specifically South Korean), not men, who ate instant noodles at least twice a week showed a 68% higher risk of metabolic syndrome.
- Noodles: In order to create a long keeping noodle that can be on store shelves or in your kitchen cupboard for 4 to 12 months, it’s deep fried in oil. That’s right, they are fried noodles.
- BPA Chemicals: Bisphenol A (BPA), is used for packaging the noodles in polystyrene foam containers. Studies have shown that BPA can affect the way hormones send messages throughout our body, specifically the primary female sex hormone, estrogen.
- Salt: Ramen is high in sodium, packed with 41% of your daily allowance with each package. Most of this sodium is in the flavoring packet. Using less flavoring, which is mostly salt, will reduce the sodium content. Also remember that eating too much sodium can increase a person’s risk of heart failure, osteoporosis, stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Flavoring Packet: The flavoring powder is made of salt, monosodium glutamate, seasoning, and sugar. The worst ingredient is the MSG, or monosodium glutamate. That’s the “flavor enhancer” used to improve all kinds of tastes. Instant noodle makers use it to make their shrimp flavors taste more like shrimp, and beef flavors more like beef.
- Fat: One 85 gram package of ramen noodles has 14.5 grams of fat. The unhealthy saturated fats make up 6.5 grams, which is about one third of your daily allowance. The remainder of the fats are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Another issue is that Ramen noodles contain Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), which is a byproduct of the petroleum industry and food additive frequently to preserve cheap processed foods. In processed foods, it’s sprayed on the food or on its packaging to prevent discoloration and changes to flavor and odor. Others products, such as cosmetics, perfumes, varnishes and lacquers, contain TBHQ to maintain stability.
Small amounts of TBHQ may not kill you (although death has occurred) or even make you feel immediately sick, but it can have a long term effect on your health such as weakening of organs and contributing to the onset of cancers and tumors.