Instant Ramen Caution: Exploring the Downsides

Instant Ramen noodles are very popular in many parts of the world for several reasons, not the least because they are cheap and easy to make. But there is a dark side to this popular dish that makes it risky to eat frequently. 

Instant Ramen noodles lack essential nutrients that you need to be healthy, and it is high in sodium and preservatives. Instant Ramen takes a long time to digest; your metabolism suffers when you eat ramen, causing weight gain. When you eat instant Ramen all the time, it replaces healthier foods in your diet.

If you enjoy instant ramen noodles, you may want to sit up and notice why this food should only be eaten occasionally.

These are 13 risks and drawbacks of eating instant Ramen noodles:

1. Instant Ramen Lacks Essential Nutrients.

Most of the food that you eat contains at least some essential nutrients like vitamins A, C, D, and E, as well as all the B vitamins. Ramen, however, lacks the nutrition that most food has to sustain you and keep you healthy. While it contains some B vitamins, like Riboflavin and Thiamine, there is not enough to promote good health. 

2. Instant Ramen Might Contain BPA.

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical in plastic and styrofoam, such as the styrofoam cup that cup noodles are packaged in. The BPA then leaks into your soup before and after cooking. You may be thinking, “So what?”

Here’s what’s so: BPA is a known endocrine disrupter that affects how hormones send your body messages. It also can mimic estrogen, which has dangerous consequences for both men and women.

3. Your Metabolism Suffers From Eating Instant Ramen.

The toxic chemicals found in ramen, such as the preservatives, affect your metabolism, causing your body to slow down how fast your body uses the food you eat. Your body will not function as well when your metabolism either slows down or speeds up to fast.

4. Instant Ramen Is High in Sodium.

The recommended daily allowance of sodium is limited to two grams per day, but ramen contains almost 88% of this allowance. If you eat ramen noodles at least once per day, you are getting nearly the recommended limit in one meal. 

One way to reduce the sodium in your ramen is to use your homemade broth for cooking the noodles. You can use only half of the seasoning packet and then add herbs or spices to your soup. 

5. Instant Ramen Takes a Long Time to Digest.

Due to the preservative (TBHQ) added to the noodles to keep them from spoiling, they don’t digest as quickly as other foods do. The noodles stay in your system intact for quite some time after eating them. This is important because when you eat, your body breaks up the food to extract nutrients from it. If the food doesn’t break down right away, your body doesn’t get the needed nutrients.

6. Ramen Can Cause Weight Gain.

Processed foods have a higher amount of bad fats and carbohydrates that contribute to weight gain. Instant Ramen noodles are often deep-fried during processing to dry them faster in order to prevent spoilage. But this fat, combined with the processed carbohydrates of the noodles and lack of fiber, makes ramen a food that can cause weight gain. 

If you were only to eat one portion of ramen per week, you most likely wouldn’t gain too much weight. But if you eat ramen several times per week, you would probably be more likely to gain weight.

7. Eating Instant Ramen Can Cause Metabolic Syndrome.

Women who eat ramen at least twice a week are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than those who don’t eat ramen regularly.

Metabolic syndrome contributes to high blood pressure, higher waist circumference, and higher blood glucose levels. The syndrome makes your body need more and more insulin to bring your blood glucose levels down, which means you store more fat than the average person. 

8. Instant Ramen Replaces Healthier Foods in Your Diet.

When you eat instant ramen more often, you leave out fresh, healthy foods like vegetables and meats from your diet. These healthy foods should provide the bulk of your diet (instead of ramen noodles) to get the nutrients you need.

While you may not be able to afford a lot of fresh foods, which is why you’re eating ramen noodles, there are some things you can get that you can add to your bowl of ramen noodles. For instance, canned vegetables and meats are good options to put in your noodles.

9. You Get More Bad Fats With Instant Ramen.

Instant ramen noodles are flash-fried in oil to facilitate the drying process. The frying process adds fat to the noodles, many of which are trans fats that are not healthy for you. 

10. Ramen Can Trigger Cravings for More Carbs.

All carbohydrates are turned into glucose in your body. The speed at which it does depends on how much fiber is in the food, like vegetables. Ramen noodles are very low in fiber, which makes it a simple carbohydrate. When you are used to eating a carb-heavy diet, your blood sugar rises many times, making you crave more carbs.

Ramen noodles are high in simple carbs, making you want to eat more starch or carbs soon after eating.

11. Ramen Can Lead to an Increased Risk of High Blood Pressure.

High blood pressure is linked to increased sodium in the diet, and because instant ramen has almost 80% of the recommended sodium intake, eating ramen frequently can lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure. While sodium is a necessary nutrient, too much can cause heart disease, stroke, and lead to osteoporosis.

12. The Seasoning Packet Contains Sugar.

If you’ve ever noticed that ramen tastes a bit sweet, it’s because the seasoning packet contains sugar along with salt, monosodium glutamate, and seasoning. Sugar is linked to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease; it also decreases your immune system functioning. 

Many foods on the market today contain hidden sugars, even if the food is not meant to be sweet like pasta sauce or salad dressings. The added sugar increases the prevalence of diseases and may contribute to premature aging.  

13. Ramen Contains TBHQ Chemicals.

TBHQ is a preservative in instant noodles that prolongs shelf life and keeps them from spoiling. But, TBHQ has been linked to neurological damage and liver damage in higher doses. However, small doses once in a while are safe. People who consume ramen more often may also be at higher risk for vision damage.

TBHQ is literally a by-product of the petroleum industry.

Choose Fresh Ramen Noodles Instead!

Fresh ramen noodles are made with wheat flour and fewer preservatives than instant ramen noodles. The preservatives that keep instant noodles from getting stale or going bad before eating them are the same preservatives that prevent them from being digested quickly after eating them. Fresh noodles don’t have those preservatives and are healthier. The broth that fresh noodles are served in is healthier, with less MSG or sodium, than the instant noodles.

Last word

Instant Ramen noodles are a good once-in-a-while treat when you are short on cash or even when you feel like having noodle soup in a hurry. However, if you eat ramen more frequently, you need to be aware of how bad it is for your health. 

If you want to make instant ramen healthier, you might think about adding vegetables and lean meat like chicken to your soup. Many fresh ramen bowls contain fresh herbs, vegetables, and seasonings that add nutrition to the soup and a hard-boiled egg for protein. 

Also, making bone broth can create a healthier soup that is as comforting as it is healthy.

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This article was co-authored by our team of writers and editors who share one thing in common: their passion for food and drinks!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco works as a New York-based editor at Foodrinke, driven by his lifelong love for food. His culinary journey began in childhood, as he eagerly assisted his mother with her local sandwich and bakery business, relishing every opportunity to sample her creations. Known among family and friends as an easy eater, JC has a particular affinity for Chinese, Italian, Mexican, and Peruvian cuisine. At Foodrinke, he channels his passion for food into his work, sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge with readers.