If you’re looking for a hot, delicious meal that sticks to your ribs, it’s tough to resist a bowl of ramen. It’s a perfect comfort food for so many reasons. It’s got rich textures, a bold, savory flavor, and it takes just a few minutes to prepare. Not only that, but it’s fun to eat!
Unfortunately, a quick glance at the nutrition label will reveal a number of problems. Simply put, your average store-bought ramen is a nutritional nightmare. To begin with, there are hardly any vitamins or minerals. But they’re also chock full of preservatives, unnecessary fats, and other unhealthy ingredients. Perhaps the worst offender of all is sodium.
So, how do you enjoy ramen without consuming so much unnecessary salt? We’re about to break down how to make a low-sodium ramen that tastes even better than today’s high-sodium staples. We’ll also talk about why most commercial ramens have so much salt to begin with.
What’s the Deal With Sodium?
Before we go any further, we should talk about the basics. What exactly is sodium, and why does it matter how much you eat? Sodium is a mineral element that’s essential for your physical health. Your nerves, brain, and muscles all need sodium and other electrolytes in order to function correctly. And since the human body doesn’t produce sodium, you have to obtain it through your diet.
When most people think of sodium, they think of regular table salt (sodium chloride). But sodium is also present in other compounds, such as MSG (monosodium glutamate). In addition, it’s found naturally in all kinds of food, such as vegetables, dairy, meat, and seafood.
With all of that being said, consuming too much sodium is a matter of getting too much of a good thing. Excessive sodium intake can make you feel pretty terrible and lead to bloating, weight gain, and more. Some studies also link excessive sodium intake to long-term health issues.
Now, you might wonder how people manage to eat too much sodium. Are that many people shaking tons of salt on every meal? As a matter of fact, main culprit seems to be prepared, pre-packaged food. According to the CDC, more than 70% of the average American’s sodium intake comes from fast food, restaurants, and packaged foods. If you’re eating a lot of overly-salty ramen, that’s bad news.
Mike’s Mighty Good vs the Leading Brands
Ramen noodles, by their very nature, are a salty dish. So is anything with broth! But there’s a difference between having enough salt, and having too much. A lot of major brands add extra salt to their recipes to provide added flavor. This allows them to keep prices down, since using more salt is cheaper than investing in a quality blend of spices and great broth. The end result is a bowl of ramen with way too much sodium.
Don’t take our word for it. Here’s the sodium content for a chicken ramen noodle cup from a few of the most popular brands:
- Nissin: 1,160mg per cup (51% of daily value)
- Maruchan: 1,180mg per cup (51% of daily value)
- Nongshim: 1,310mg per cup (55% of daily value)
By comparison, a cup of Mike’s Mighty Good chicken ramen contains only 780mg of sodium, or 34% of daily value. To put it another way, Mike’s Mighty Good contains about 40% less sodium per ounce than many of the leading brands.
Other Artificial Ingredients
Besides sodium, a lot of commercial ramen noodles include other questionable ingredients. Chief among these are preservatives, which provide for a longer shelf life. Unfortunately, preservatives create a new set of potential issues.
The most popular preservative for ramen manufacturers is a chemical called tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ). TBHQ is indeed approved by the FDA for foods intended for human consumption. That said, some people still have some serious questions about how healthy it is to eat a large quantity of it. Because we want our foods to include healthy, simple ingredients, Mike’s Mighty Good doesn’t add artificial preservatives to our ramen.
In addition to chemical preservatives, many ramen brands make use of artificial flavors and colors. These artificial compounds are made from all kinds of hard-to-pronounce chemicals that are cheap, but of questionable health value. Mike’s Mighty Good flavors our ramen with a rich blend of herbs and spices.
10 Tips for Better Low-Sodium Ramen
So far, we’ve talked about the health benefits of eating low-sodium ramen. But how do you make sure your bowl is still delicious and flavorful? There are any number of ways to kick your ramen’s flavor level into high gear. Here are ten of our favorites.
- Use a low-sodium ramen: As we already discussed, different ramen brands come with higher or lower sodium contents. If you want to have a tasty, low-sodium bowl, start with a low-sodium ramen pack like the ones from Mike’s Mighty Good.
- Get rid of the flavor packet: Mike’s flavor packs are full of spices, and less sodium than other leading brands. But if you’re on a crusade to cut salt out of your diet, you can always ditch the flavoring altogether and create your own broth.
- Stock your kitchen with sodium-free seasonings: If you want to add flavor without salt, start with the spices. Onion powder, garlic powder, sage, thyme, and other herbs are all great choices for a ramen bowl.
- Make it spicy: In addition to herbs, consider adding some spices to your bowl. We’re talking about things that add some heat, like red pepper, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and sriracha. Not only will you be adding flavor, but the heat will make you forget about salt altogether.
- Use a low-sodium soy sauce: Soy sauce is probably the #1 most popular ingredient for ramen recipes. Unfortunately, it has a lot of salt, which means you’re adding a ton of sodium to your recipe. Instead, consider using a low-sodium soy sauce.
- Use a low-sodium miso paste: Miso paste is a popular alternative to soup base for ramen noodles. A low-sodium paste will create a delicious miso base, without all the salt you’ll get in a traditional chicken, beef, or vegetable stock.
- Throw in some protein: Beef, pork, and chicken are the obvious choices. But eggs can add their unique rich notes to the recipe. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, tofu is an excellent alternative. Just make sure to rinse it first, and cook it up with a few spices.
- Add some tasty veggies: Along with your protein, you also want to get some vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. So make sure to add some vegetables like carrots, onions, or broccoli. Not only are they good for you, but they taste delicious.
- Remember your leafy greens: Besides solid vegetables, you should also eat some leafy ones. Add some cabbage, bok choy, scallions, and other leafy greens to your bowl. They add a satisfying texture, along with plenty of fiber.
- Consider adding dairy: It might sound unorthodox, but adding some milk to your ramen gives it a creamy flavor and smooth texture that’s incredibly savory. And speaking of savory, what doesn’t taste better with a bit of cheese? Sprinkle some cheddar over your noodles and savor the gooey richness.
Start With the Best Noodles
Besides packing their noodles full of salt, many commercial manufacturers make things worse by adding a ton of unnecessary oil. This is because they use a flash-frying cooking process, where the noodles are boiled very quickly in oil.
This is a beautiful thing for the companies’ bottom line; with a faster production process, you can make more noodles in less time. You can certainly make your noodles more cheaply, but you’re putting a lot of fat into them. Not only that, but fried noodles have a different taste and texture than traditional ramen.
When you go to a ramen bar, where they make “real” ramen, the noodles are steamed, not fried. This process takes a little bit longer, but it makes for a noticeably different texture that’s far more chewy. And because there’s no oil soaked into the noodles, oil doesn’t leech into your broth afterwards and mess with the flavor.
Mike’s Mighty Good believes that your home ramen should be just as delicious and authentic as noodles you eat at a restaurant. Even though it takes more time, we steam all of our noodles, so they have a chewy texture and a flavor that hasn’t been thrown off by oil. To top things off, we use only simple ingredients; you don’t have to worry about a bunch of questionable chemicals.
Why Wait to Build a Better Bowl?
As you can see, creating a quality, low-sodium bowl of ramen starts with the ingredients. By adding vegetables, herbs, spices, and proteins to your bowl, you’ll enjoy a medley of flavors that’s way tastier than boring old salt.
And when it comes to choosing ingredients, it all starts with choosing the best noodles. Whatever recipe you prepare, start with a pack of Mike’s Mighty Good ramen. You’ll have less salt to begin with, along with authentic steamed noodles.
Check out our blog for more information, follow us on Instagram to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest in the fabulous world of ramen noodles, and watch our TikTok videos for recipe inspiration and visual walkthroughs.
Check out these 15 healthy ramen recipes using Mike's Mighty Good ramen.