A teenage boy I know almost exclusively eats instant noodles. I’m wondering what I can give him in their place that he will eat and doesn’t cost too much, and how bad are they for him.
A You are correct that instant noodles aren’t a great everyday option, despite the fact that they are incredibly inexpensive and very well-liked among teenagers.
The majority of instant noodles are deep-fried, which is how they cook “instantly,” and the oils they use are frequently high in saturated fat.
Additionally, instant noodles are high in sodium and low in protein and fiber, making them less filling. As an illustration, Trident Hot and Spicy Noodles, which have 2900mg of sodium per serve (nearly 1 Many other examples are 2000mg or more per serve (which is five times as much as we are permitted to consume in a single day). You might be in for a nasty surprise if you read the nutrition facts on the back of your son’s food packaging.
The good news is that he can make a number of delicious, healthier choices for himself that are also very affordable and ready in less than five minutes.
Small pasta shapes or spaghetti should be cooked, drained, and combined with flavorful canned tuna or salmon (check the sodium content of the latter as well; see our canned fish guide here). If he’s game, cook the pasta with a few frozen peas, corn, or mixed vegetables, or add a few chopped tomatoes at the very end. The best part about this is that he can prepare enough at once for a few meals or snacks.
Instead of deep-frying instant noodles, use soft style hokkien or udon noodles. They only need to be covered with boiling water and cooked for about a minute. If possible, incorporate some fresh or frozen vegetables along with the tuna, chopped cooked chicken, or cooked egg.
Other suggestions for nutritious, quick snacks that teenagers frequently seem to enjoy include omelettes, scrambled eggs, or beans (ideally with less salt) on whole-wheat toast, or you could try making a smoothie with banana, berries, milk, and yoghurt (and the more spinach you can fit in there, the better).
What is the nutritional value of instant noodles?
Depending on the type or flavor of instant noodles, the nutritional value varies slightly. Here is a list of the nutrients in 1 serving (43g) of instant ramen noodles to give you an idea:
The majority of instant noodles are low in calories but high in protein and fiber. They are also infamous for having high sodium, fat, and carbohydrate content. Instant noodles do contain some micronutrients, but they don’t contain essential vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B12, and others.
Even though many people enjoy eating instant noodles because of their affordability, convenience, and flavor, many are unaware of the health risks they pose. Daily consumption of instant noodles can have a number of very serious health effects. Here are some factors that make instant noodles unhealthy:
The sodium content of a single serving of instant noodles can range from 397 to 3678 mg per 100g, and occasionally it can be even higher. While sodium is a necessary mineral for your body to function properly, consuming too much sodium can be harmful to your health.
Processed foods like instant noodles are one of the main sources of dietary sodium intake. A high-salt diet has been associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer, heart disease, and stroke. A high-sodium diet may increase the risk of high blood pressure in people who are thought to be salt-sensitive, which can harm the health of the heart and kidneys.
If you take into account the WHO’s recommendation of 2 g of sodium per day, eating even just one pack of instant noodles would make it very difficult for you to maintain sodium intake within the suggested limits. That being said, individuals who regularly consume several packs of instant noodles will undoubtedly consume a significant amount of sodium.
MSG, a very common additive present in many processed foods, is present in instant noodles. Enhancing food flavor and palatability is its main function. Despite the FDA’s approval for consumption and its widespread use in a variety of foods, there are worries about both its immediate and long-term effects on the body.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that MSG consumption has been linked to symptoms like headaches, nausea, high blood pressure, drowsiness, tight muscles, chest pain, and skin flushing. After consuming MSG, if you experience any of these symptoms, you may have a condition called the MSG symptom complex. Although the link has not been proven conclusively, it is acknowledged that a small proportion of people may experience these temporary reactions to MSG.
Additionally, some studies link excessive MSG consumption to obesity and elevated blood pressure. However, as long as MSG is consumed in moderation, the small amounts found in instant noodles are probably not going to cause these side effects.
Instant Noodles May Provide Important Micronutrients
Instant noodles contain a number of micronutrients like iron, manganese, folate, and B vitamins despite being relatively low in some nutrients like fiber and protein.
Some instant noodles are also fortified with additional nutrients.
In Indonesia, about half of instant noodles are fortified with vitamins and minerals, including iron. One study actually found that consuming iron-fortified milk and noodles can decrease the risk of anemia, a condition caused by iron deficiency (9).
Additionally, some instant noodles are made using fortified wheat flour, which has shown potential in increasing micronutrient intake without changing the taste or texture of the final product (10).
Additionally, studies have suggested that consuming instant noodles may lead to higher intakes of specific micronutrients.
A 2011 study compared the nutrient intake of 6,440 people who ate instant noodles and people who didn’t.
Those who consumed instant noodles had a 31% greater intake of thiamine and a 16% higher intake of riboflavin than those who did not eat instant noodles (11).
Monosodium glutamate (MSG), a common food additive used to improve flavor in processed foods, is present in the majority of instant noodles.
Though the FDA recognizes MSG as safe for consumption, its potential effects on health remain controversial (12).
Products must disclose the presence of added MSG on the ingredients label in the US (12).
MSG is also naturally present in foods like tomatoes, cheese, yeast extract, soy extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
Some studies have linked extremely high MSG consumption to weight gain and even increased blood pressure, headaches and nausea (13, 14).
However, other studies have found no association between weight and MSG when people consume it in moderate amounts (15).
Some research has also suggested MSG may negatively impact brain health. One test-tube study found that MSG could cause swelling and death of mature brain cells (16).
Nevertheless, other research has shown that dietary MSG likely has little effect on brain health, since even large amounts are not able to cross the blood-brain barrier (17).
MSG is probably safe in moderation, but some people may be sensitive to it and should keep their intake to a minimum.
This condition is known as the MSG symptom complex. Sufferers may experience symptoms such as headaches, muscle tightness, numbness and tingling (18).
They’re low in fibre and protein
Even though they are low in calories, instant noodles are also low in fiber and protein, so they might not be a good choice for weight loss. Fibre moves slowly through the digestive tract, promoting feelings of fullness, while protein moves quickly through the digestive tract, increasing feelings of fullness and decreasing hunger.
Because instant noodles are so low in protein and fiber, eating them frequently is likely to leave you feeling hungry all the time. Additionally, a diet low in fiber is linked to an increased risk of digestive issues like constipation and diverticular disease as well as declines in beneficial gut bacteria.
Are instant noodles that unhealthy?
However, its standing as “junk food” actually worsens. According to the Washington Post, eating instant noodles may increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a Baylor University and Harvard study published in the Journal of Nutrition.
Is it OK to eat instant noodles once a week?
Including instant noodles in your diet occasionally probably won’t have any detrimental effects on your health. Don’t use them as a mainstay in your diet, though, as they are low in nutrients. Additionally, regular consumption is connected to a poor diet and a higher risk of metabolic syndrome.
What happens if you eat instant noodles everyday?
Regular consumption of instant noodles has also been linked to a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition characterized by excess abdominal fat, hypertension, diabetes, and abnormal blood lipid levels (14)
How often should I eat instant noodles?
The heart desires what it desires, and nothing can stop you from actually obtaining your maggi. Once or twice a month is generally okay if you’re a hopeless addict but you care about your health, but once or more a week is a recipe for disaster.