For years I have loved ramen noodles and made them a staple part of my diet. I would eat them as often as four times a week. Well, no more! It has been a long time in coming, but I am saying good-bye to ramen. In case you are not familiar with the world of noodles, I am talking about those plastic packages of dried noodles that you can often find on sale five for a dollar. I enjoy them so much that on more than one occasion I have thought of writing my own ramen cookbook. Well now, as my life quest has started down the road to healthy eating, ramen is being left by the wayside.
My ramen history
Most of my family likes ramen. We usually have a couple of cases (24 per case) on hand, and when we drop down below one case, I get nervous because that is not much more than a week’s supply. So, why the change? Well, for years now people that have known of my love for ramen have told me that they have no nutritional value. I think some even said that they contain a lot of salt, but this is as far as it went. This was not enough to cause a life altering change. I’m not sure if they were just being polite to not push me to change my ways, or they just didn’t know any more, but I I wish they had pushed. Nothing really bad has happened to me as a result of the noodles, but I could have been further down the healthy path. On the other hand, I probably wasn’t ready back then to make the change. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you will listen.
I’m ready to change
Today i am ready to listen. Recently, I have been looking at the factors that influence longevity and researching different cultures and some possible reasons for greater longevity. I am just getting into it, so there is no wisdom I can share at this time, but as part of this research, I have been studying nutritional recommendations from different organizations, such as the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization. This has lead me to look even more at the quantity of different ingredients in food, not just the ingredients, as I was looking at previously. Today I examined the back of a package of ramen. Look at this for one package of remen:
- Calories – 380
- Calories from fat – 140
- Total fat – 14g (22% or recommended daily intake)
- Saturated fat – 7g (36%)
- Sodium 1920mg (80%)
- Total carbohydrates – 50g (16%)
- Dietary fiber 1g (8%)
- Sugars – 1g
- Protein – 10g
- Iron 16%
Another important detail is that I almost always eat two ramen each time, so you need to double the above numbers for me. What you have is a lot of empty calories (calories that come without much nutrition), a whole lot of fat (especially saturated fat), and loads of sodium. Convinced? I wasn’t quite convinced, so I looked at the back of a package of udon noodles, which I enjoy just as much if not more – they are just harder to find and cost more money. Udon noodles had significantly fewer calories, one-tenth the fat, and half the salt. And, since I usually only need to eat one package of udon noodles to two ramen, a ramen meal has 2o times the fat and 4 times the salt. To me, udon noodles are a clear winner in the health race. I get to have my noodle fix and be a lot better off after eating them. Yes, they will cost me more, at least up front, but I would rather pay more for “healthy” food now than for medical care later. Now, I say “healthy,” but if you look at the list of ingredients on both foods, they are far from healthy. They have a lot of ingredients I haven’t ever heard of, on top of mono sodium glutamate, which I know if not good. So, I guess I should say udon noodles are “healthier” instead of healthy.
My healthy promise
After being sick a few years back, I prayed to have one more chance to take better care of my body and I am still committed to that. Will I ever eat another ramen noodle, yes. I’ll probably have one every few months but I will never view them the same.
Passing it on
Finally, I wish that those that knew had been a bit more forceful, I know I plan to be and hopefully this is the start of that push. If you won’t give up ramen, consider doing a few things. First, skip the flavor packet or just use a portion of it. Removing the flavor packet drops the sodium level to 220mg per package. Unfortunately, the fat levels do not change with removing the seasoning packet. Second, don’t drink the broth. Fortunately for me, I don’t like the broth. Also, consider adding some healthy items to the noodles to make them more healthy. Still not convinced, how about this. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that ramen may increase a person’s risk for cardiometabolic syndrome – a risk factor for severe cardiovascular disease and stroke, especially in women.