Last Updated on January 25, 2017 by Michael Brockbank
Ah, ramen noodles…the staple of many a college student. This brand of food is one of the cheapest ways to eat. Depending where you live, you can have yourself a lunch for less than $0.05 per package. Unfortunately, filling your stomach is the only thing you’re doing. Yes, a block of noodles and a seasoning packet can make for a bowl of food, but it can also be an incredibly unhealthy way to live.
What Makes Ramen So Bad?
Today, I’m only focusing on the beef ramen noodles. I’ll have to do a comparison article later for other brands.
Eating ramen may seem like a good way to feed yourself or the family when you’re on a budget, but let me demonstrate how bad these things are. Now, bear in mind that I am not purposely bashing ramen noodles as a whole. I used to survive off of them. However, they aren’t the most healthy thing in your cabinet.
Depending on the brand, you might even find better nutrition from boiling carpet or having a paper sandwich. The taste might be similar.
The health value may be far less than what you may realize.
Let’s take the Beef packages of ramen noodles. Each one-half of a block has 190 calories. Now, half of a block may be good to split between two kids, but most adults will simply cook up the entire package. This means that you’re consuming 380 calories for a full bowl of food.
In reality, this isn’t all too bad. From a calorie perspective, ramen noodles are better than some of the other foods you can eat, especially when compared to things at the fast-food window. But it’s not the calories that are causing the most damage. It’s the lack of nutritional value from everything else.
Here is where ramen noodles become a bit on the dangerous side. For a full package, you’ll consume 1580mg of sodium – almost your maximum limit for any given day. Why is this important? Because sodium plays a major role in high blood pressure and heart disease. This is from just one meal.
This doesn’t include any other sodium you’ll consume throughout the day. You might not consider the dangers of sodium until you’re stage three hypertension and have incredibly high blood pressure. And to think, I used to cook up two packages of this at lunch time. It depresses me, actually.
I suppose I was able to ward off some of the negative benefits of sodium by drinking more water. Now, I don’t have any scientific evidence to support the claim yet, but for someone who eats as much sodium as I do, my blood pressure isn’t nearly as high as you would think. Perhaps my coffee addiction offsets this component? It’s doubtful, but it’s a nice sentiment.
A full package of ramen noodles consists of 52g of carbs. This is also a relatively high number, especially for those who want to focus on health. Now, those who do a lot of weight training can easily burn through the carbs in the form of energy for the muscles. But since there is no real vitamin and mineral content in ramen noodles, there may be several better alternatives for lunch or dinner.
Humans need certain kinds of carbohydrates in order to function properly. Our bodies convert this material to deliver fuel to muscles and organs. However, it’s the excess of particular carbs that can cause issues if they are not used right away. It’s all about finding that perfect balance to stay healthy.
There is a bit of protein within this food, about 8g for a whole package. This helps in muscle development and creating energy for the body, but the numbers are still much too low compared to the other aspects of ramen noodles.
As a whole, the protein count is higher in contrast to other things you can eat. I just don’t know if the pros of this outweigh the cons. I suppose if you’re physically active enough, this might be a mediocre way to eat lunch. But you might find everything lacking if you don’t really mix the noodles with other types of foods.
Vitamins and Minerals
After consuming a whole package, you’ll receive 16% of your daily value for iron. This is the only significant bonus to ramen. And remember, I’m only covering the beef packages here – which are beef flavored and contain no real meat products. In contrast, a bowl of Cream of Wheat can deliver 40% of your daily iron from a single package while delivering far more health benefits.
What Does This All Mean?
When it comes to ramen noodles, the disadvantages definitely outweigh the benefits. You’ll consume a large number of calories and sodium without getting any real nutritional value.
While your personal budget may play a role in how much of this you eat, you should try to find something else that is cheap and more healthy. The trade-off may be worse than if you were to pick up a McDouble…I’ll have to write that one later, too.
What Can You Do to Liven-Up Ramen?
For anything you add to ramen noodles in order to make it more healthy, you’ll need to consider the additional calories and sodium. However, you can give a bowl of ramen more life if you add vegetables to the mix. You can never go wrong with greens. Personally, I like to add chopped onions to beef ramen. Green onions are really good as well while giving the bowl a bit of a kick.
What this all boils down to is that ramen may be one of the worst things you can eat on a regular basis. What makes it horrid to your health is the sheer number of calories, sodium, fats and carbs compared to what paltry nutrition is available.
It’s food when the cabinets are bare and you’re living from paycheck-to-paycheck like myself. Unfortunately, it’s terrible if you’re trying to keep yourself healthy. Just don’t try to make it a staple in house. Eating cheap will come at a price.