Looking for an affordable and filling meal? Instant ramen is a popular choice that can be ready in just a few minutes using a microwave – or you can prepare it on the stovetop with additional ingredients. This is why it’s a go-to option for many college students. However, if you prioritize your health, you may be wondering if ramen is bad for you.
The answer isn’t straightforward. Instant ramen cups themselves aren’t necessarily unhealthy, as they mainly consists of noodles and a flavor packet. The healthiness of the dish depends on the ingredients used in the noodles and flavor packet, as well as any ramen toppings added to the dish. By incorporating healthy ingredients into your recipe, you can make your ramen bowl much more nutritious.
In this article, we’ll explore how ramen noodles and flavor packets are prepared, and why they might – or might not – be good for you. Additionally, we’ll provide tips on how to make a healthy ramen bowl. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to prepare a nutritious and delicious bowl of ramen. Let’s begin!
Read the Ingredients
It never hurts to read the ingredients of any package of food you eat. The same goes for ramen. You might be interested in knowing what’s inside.
Keep in mind that not all ingredients will be the same regardless of the brand of ramen you eat. Some may contain a specific ingredient or two, others may not. You may come across names that may be hard to spell or even pronounce.
You have the option to further research these ingredients. If you have doubts about it being healthy for you or not, it may be best to eat something else. There are several claims that certain ingredients in ramen noodles may be bad for you.
Yet, there may be ingredients in ramen that claim to be beneficial as well. Take it with a grain of salt. Remember, when in doubt - don’t.
Salt, Salt, and More Salt
Salt contains sodium. That’s an obvious fact. However, your body needs just enough sodium (along with other minerals) for it to function properly.
We get it - it’s never a good idea to eat too much salt or sodium as it can lead to health issues specific to your heart. The question you need to ask yourself is: how much sodium is enough based on your diet?
Another question is how much ramen would you need in order to satisfy part of the daily value? It may depend on the amount of calories you consume regularly.
According to the FDA, 2300 mg of sodium daily is the most acceptable amount. This is based on a 2000 calorie diet. Also, pay attention to the type of packaging it’s in.
The size and the amount of ramen it contains will determine how much sodium is inside. A small cup of ramen noodles may have an average of 1100 mg of sodium - which accounts for nearly half of your daily value. Others may contain more.
Again, reading the packaging labels will be your best bet. If you want to enjoy ramen without worry, there’s always low sodium options. It’s possible to enjoy ramen with low sodium and maximum flavoring at the same time.
If you are a bit crafty in the kitchen, you can make low sodium ramen on your own.
Sadly, excess sodium intake isn’t the only health concern. The majority of the leading ramen brands create their noodles by flash-frying them prior to packaging. This is a quick and inexpensive production process that allows manufacturers to deliver the low, low prices you’re used to seeing on grocery store shelves.
Flash frying is problematic for a couple of reasons. To begin with, fried noodles come with the same health risks as other fried foods. Moreover, these brands often use palm oil for the frying process, which is not ecologically sustainable.
Mike’s Mighty Good craft ramen is prepared the old-school way: by steaming them. This is how noodles are traditionally prepared in Japan. Although it is more time-consuming and expensive, there’s no oil used in the process. We also avoid using palm oil to ensure that we don’t harm the environment.
Other Questionable Ingredients
By questionable ingredients, we mean the ones with hard to pronounce (or hard to spell names). One of them that tends to raise eyebrows is tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ). There may be health claims about this ingredient that are not quite proven.
Some may claim that it can be linked to cancer. Again, there is no known scientific evidence proving this. Again, if in doubt, eat something else.
Another thing to watch out for is artificial colors and flavors. While most of them are safe, why take unnecessary risks? Does your pork ramen packet really need artificial pork flavor? Why does kimchi ramen have anything other than kimchi? Besides which, you don’t need artificial flavors if you have a high-quality spice blend. Organic ramen shouldn’t contain these things.
Some of the ingredients might be ones you don’t expect. For instance, if you’re lactose-intolerant, you might think that you can eat any type of ramen. However, many brands use lactose in their flavor packets. When you look at a packet of Mighty Mike’s ramen, you know exactly what you’re getting.
Tips for Preparing a Healthy Ramen Bowl
So far, we’ve talked about what sets Mike’s Mighty Good noodles apart, and why they can absolutely be good for you. But just because the noodles are healthy doesn’t mean you’re getting a well-rounded meal. From spicy ramen to miso ramen to pork tonkotsu, there are plenty of options.
Before we finish, let’s discuss some ways to create your own delicious instant ramen recipe:
- Analyze the label – Although we’d love you to try Mike’s Mighty Good noodles, it’s essential to read the labels of any food you eat. Check the sodium content and other ingredients to ensure you’re comfortable with them. Beware of artificial colors and flavorings, preservatives, and unexpected ingredients like lactose. That way, you know you’re starting your healthy ramen dish with an organic ramen noodle.
- Include some vegetables – Ramen doesn’t have many nutrients aside from some iron in the noodles. To make a completely balanced and nutritious meal, you need some veggies. Vegetables not only add flavor and texture, but they also provide a variety of nutrients. You can add onions, garlic, green onions, carrots, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, or any other vegetable you like.
- Combine protein – While carbs provide energy, they won’t keep you full for long. If you want to make a satisfying and filling meal, add protein. You can include meat like chicken or pork, or whip up a beef ramen. Or you can go for a seafood like shrimp. If you want vegetarian ramen or vegan ramen, tofu, natto, or edamame can provide the necessary protein.
- Go easy on the salt – Not to beat a dead horse, but most ramen packets contain gobs of salt. Even Mike’s Mighty Good ramen has a pretty generous serving! Instead of adding extra salt, try other spices like chili paste, hot sauce, or herbs to add flavor.
So, Can Ramen Be Good For You?
Absolutely! Ramen can be good for you, especially if it’s prepared as part of a balanced meal. So take the time to mix up some veggies and some meat or tofu with your noodles. You’ll feel fuller, and you’ll be getting better nutrition over the long run.
Of course, ramen is even better when you start with a healthy noodle. That’s why we recommend always using Mike’s Mighty Good cups and pillow packs. With less salt than the leading brand and noodles that are steamed, not fried, you’ll feel like you’re eating the real thing in a real noodle bar. Anything else you add is just icing on the cake.