Cheap, Tasty, and Harmful to Your Health: Ramen Noodles
Did you know ramen noodles are deep-fried?
Ramen noodles are cheap, easy to make, and they taste good, which is why so many college kids live on them in school. I know I did. You can buy a whole box of them for just a few bucks. Between instant noodles, Lucky Charms, and cappuccino, I ate like I had a death wish in college. And though indulging in the occasional cup of noodles won’t kill you, but living on them could shorten your life.
MSG is Addictive, and may Contribute to Several Health Problems
Instant noodles, of course, contain an ingredient called MSG, which is bad enough. For starters, MSG has been linked to weight gain and obesity. So, combined with the piles of carbs found in ramen noodles (27 grams in a cup), this cheap “snack” doesn’t help your waistline.
MSG is also an addictive substance that is put in food to make you want more of it. And if you’re eating a lot of salt, there’s a good chance you’ll be really thirsty. Don’t think restaurants and the food industry don’t make a killing off these facts.
And if that isn’t enough to make you swear off MSG and ramen noodles forever, consider this: the processed food additive is a neurotoxin that causes cells in the hypothalamus to shrivel and die.
Nearly 20 years ago, I worked in the dining industry, and regularly ate the same meals that were served to customers. It took me a while, but I finally figured out that the daily migraines I was suffering from always showed up soon after I ate on the job.
You get the idea: MSG is incredibly unhealthy.
I came across a study posted on Facebook from 2014 that caught my attention. I realize it’s a 2-year-old study, but it was too important to ignore. The findings of this particular study were published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Nutrition.
The study involved a total of 10,711 adults from South Korea, a little over half of them women, age 19-64. The participants were assessed using a 63-item food-frequency questionnaire.
Two major dietary patterns were identified by the researchers. The “traditional dietary pattern” included vegetables, fish, fruit, potatoes, and large amounts of rice. The “fast-food pattern” involved less rice but frequent sodas, fried foods, and fast food, including ramen noodles.
The researchers found that those who consume ramen noodles as little as twice a week have significantly greater odds of developing obesity (especially abdominal obesity.
Lead researcher Hyun Joon Shin, M.D., a clinical cardiology fellow at Baylor University in Texas and a nutrition epidemiology doctoral student at the Harvard School of Public Health, said:
“While instant noodle intake is greater in Asian communities, the association between instant noodle consumption and metabolic syndrome has not been widely studied. I decided to investigate in order to uncover more distinct connections.”
Indeed, Shin and his colleagues found an association between eating instant noodles two or more times a week and the development of cardiometabolic syndrome – and thus the likelihood of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, particularly in women. 
Other Reasons to Drop the Ramen
Here’s a quick breakdown of why making ramen noodles a more-than-occasional meal could be hazardous to your health:
About 1/3 of your daily recommended amount of fat is found in an 85-gram package of ramen noodles, which contains 14.5 total grams of fat. Of those 14.5 grams, 6.5 are saturated fats, and the rest are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Not much protein or veggies, either.
The ramen noodles you buy in a Styrofoam cup contain a few piddly chunks of dried vegetables, but certainly not enough to be considered a “serving.” And let’s be honest – you don’t eat them, anyway, unless you accidentally fish one out with a noodle.
Ramen noodles contain 0% vitamin A, 0% vitamin C, and 0% calcium, and (depending on brand) 4-5 grams of protein, and 10% iron. You’re basically getting a cup of carbohydrates and MSG, and little else.
Salt, like most things, is not bad for you, as long as you’re not gorging on it. High sodium consumption may not cause high blood pressure…but it might not be a great idea to eat a lot of it if you already have high blood pressure.
No one is going to sit down and empty a salt shaker into their mouth, but eating ramen noodles is almost the same thing. Ramen noodles contain 41% of your daily recommended allowance of salt. Most of it is found in the seasoning packet. Even if you’re not worried about salt causing a heart attack, eating ramen noodles is a great way to make your feet and ankles swell. Not pleasant.
Those Styrofoam ramen noodle containers are among the items that still contain the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA. Since BPA is also found in the lining of canned food, in plastic food containers, and receipts – just to name a few items – chances are, if you’re not being diligent, you’re probably being exposed to way too much BPA. As food or liquid sits in a container, BPA leaches out of the container and is absorbed by the food. Heating BPA greatly amplifies this effect.
BPA has been linked to the following conditions:
- Breast cancer
- Feminization of boys
- Accelerated maturity in girls
- Increased diabetes risk
- Depression and hyperactivity in young girls whose mothers were exposed to BPA
Want to hear something funny? Now, a Styrofoam cup of instant noodles contains one serving, but one of those blocks of noodles that come wrapped in plastic contains two servings!.
Um, people don’t usually eat half a serving of ramen noodles. College kids don’t knock on their buddies’ dorm doors trying to find a taker for that second serving of noodles. Well, that whole block of noodles contains 380 calories, which means it really is a meal. Definitely don’t eat ramen noodles as a snack.
Ramen noodles aren’t like the noodles you buy at the store and boil in water. In order to create a noodle that can last…forever on a shelf, manufacturers have to deep fry them in oil before air-drying them, according to The Street. Bet you never dreamed ramen noodles were a fried food!
This info might not convince college kids to abandon their ramen-eating ways, but hopefully it will make some people stop and think before they pack a cup of them in their kids’ school lunch.
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.