I used to eat ramen noodles without the seasoning all the time. I figured it’s at least lower in sodium that way, and hey—it’s cheap and tasty! But eventually, I realized the problem with ramen noodles goes much deeper than the seasoning packet.
Ramen noodles without the seasoning packet are still unhealthy. Compared to regular noodles, they typically have added vegetable oil and salt, so they are higher in calories, fat, and sodium. They also often have TBHQ, a controversial preservative which has caused tumors and paralysis in animal studies.
Below, I’ll break down many aspects of ramen noodle nutrition (without the seasoning). We’ll look at ingredients, calories, sodium, TBHQ, and more. I’ll also share practical tips to make your noodle dishes healthier.
Amount Per 1 serving (43 g)
Are Ramen Noodles Worse Than Regular Noodles?
Instant ramen noodles have added vegetable oil, salt, and TBHQ compared to regular noodles. This makes ramen noodles less healthy than regular noodles, even without the seasoning packet.
Obviously, the exact comparison will depend on the specific brands you choose. But let’s compare leading brands of ramen noodles vs regular noodles:
|Maruchan Ramen||Enriched Wheat Flour (wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil (contains One Or More Of The Following: Canola, Cottonseed, Palm) Preserved By TBHQ, Contains Less Than 1% Of: Salt, Soy Sauce (water, Wheat, Soybeans, Salt), Potassium Carbonate, Sodium (mono, Hexameta, And/or Tripoly) Phosphate, Sodium Carbonate, Turmeric.|
|Barilla Spaghetti||Semolina (Wheat), Durum Wheat Flour. Vitamins/Minerals: Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Iron (Ferrous Sulfate), Vitamin B1 (Thiamine Mononitrate), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Folic Acid.|
I see at least three problems with the ramen:
Regular noodles may taste kind of bland compared to instant ramen. But there’s a nutritional cost you pay for the added taste in ramen noodles.
Granted, regular noodles are not the healthiest food, either. They are mostly empty calories—not many nutrients—and most noodles are high-glycemic carbs made from processed wheat.
The healthiest option would be to add some healthy seasonings or sauce to some of the healthy alternatives shared below.
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What Can I Use Instead of the Ramen Packet?
Even if you insist on using instant noodles as the base for your meal, there are still ways to make it healthier. Instead of using the included seasoning packet, try some of the following.
You may find a combination of these to work best. Also keep in mind that some of these will be more appealing with dry noodles (drain the water):
Obviously, there are hundreds more ideas you could come up with. Steam some vegetables or add a can of beans into the mix, too, and you’ve got yourself a much healthier meal.
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What Part of Ramen Is Bad for You?
Unfortunately, when it comes to instant ramen, both the noodles and the seasoning packet are unhealthy. Before we get into the details, here’s the bird’s eye view:
Now let’s take a closer look at those noodles.
How many calories in ramen noodle seasoning packet?
An example of the Nutrition Information for a whole packet of Ramen Chicken Flavor: Calories 18, Total Fat <1g, Cholesterol 0g, Sodium 1280mg, Total Carbohydrates 1g, Protein <1g. Attached is a PDF of the noodles only Nutrient information for reference.
How many calories are in instant ramen noodles?
How many calories are in one package of beef ramen noodles?