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Even if you left your cup of noodles behind in college, you could be at risk.
Ramen is more than just a menu staple for college students—it can be a quick, healthy dinner for any home cook.
But there’s a big difference between homemade ramen or rice noodles and the prepackaged, instant noodles you may remember heating up in your dorm room or microwave. And it turns out that those cheap packets of dried noodles and sodium flavor may be terrible for your health.
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In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers in Korea reviewed a survey of over 10,000 adult men and women, and their diets. Participants were divided into two camps: those who followed a “traditional dietary pattern” of fish, rice, fruit, potatoes, and vegetables, and those who primarily ate a “meat and fast-food” diet that consisted more heavily of meat, soda, fried food, and processed foods (like, ahem, instant noodles).
The researchers were looking for whether the fast food diet put people at a higher risk for metabolic syndrome, which the National Institute of Health defines as “a group of factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes or stroke.” Even though the diets varied drastically, neither one put participants at a higher risk of metabolic syndrome.
However, researchers did find that women who ate instant noodles at least twice a week were 68% more likely to be obese and to develop metabolic syndrome, regardless of their primary diet or how much they exercised. Interestingly, researchers didn’t find the same association with men.
But what exactly makes instant noodles so unhealthy? In a package of Top Ramen, there are 380 calories, 14 grams of fat and 1,820 mg of sodium—over half of the FDA’s recommended daily value of 2,300 mg.
There’s also a preservative called tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ. TBHQ has been linked to vision disturbances in individuals who were exposed to the chemical. It’s also been associated with liver enlargement and tumor development in rats.
So, if you're eating ramen a couple times per week, consider this your motivation to toss out those cheap little packets, and turn to something healthier—here are 12 healthy lunches anyone on a budget can make. And if you're just a fan of ramen, try this Miso-Ginger Noodle Bowl. It's not only healthier, it's much tastier.
6 Delicious Ways to Bulk Up Instant Noodles
To many, instant noodles are budget food, the backup pantry item that steps up when you are short on money, time, or both. But to me, instant noodles also represent indulgence, pleasure, and thrill.
The ritual of instant noodles runs deep in my veins. Growing up in a Cantonese household, instant noodles were a daily staple—when we came home from school, we would snatch a packet from the box of ma ma mian on top of the fridge for a quick snack to satiate our teenage hunger until dinnertime. When I was in high school, it was one of the only foods I knew how to cook. The times we ate instant noodles as a full meal for lunch, my mother would often add some "fancier" fixings to make the dish feel more special—she loaded them with ample greens, most often iceberg lettuce or bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, Spam, and sesame oil.
With current times dictating that we cook at home, relying on pantry staples and keeping a sharp eye on our finances, instant noodles have returned as the ultimate frugal feel-good food. And ditching the high-sodium (though admittedly extremely delicious) sachet opens up a world of breakfast, lunch, and dinner possibilities. With some help from fridge and pantry standbys like leftover vegetables, eggs, kimchi, miso, tahini, and peanut butter, instant noodles can easily become a full-bodied main meal.
Here are my favorite ways to do just that:
Who doesn’t love cold sesame or peanut butter noodles? Instant noodles are perfect for this dish, as their squiggly texture perfectly clings to the sauce. They’re also very simple to make: Thin out tahini or peanut better with water, add a small clove of chopped garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Whisk everything together and drop your cooked noodles straight in, tossing to coat the noodles in the nutty sauce. Add some sliced cucumber, top with scallions, and drizzle with chili oil.
I love the way the cheesy egginess of carbonara sauce sticks to the curly noodles. While making carbonara can often feel technical, I try not to overthink the steps here. This works best with two packets of instant noodles. Whisk together 1 egg, a few tablespoons of grated parmesan or pecorino, and lots of black pepper. Once the noodles are cooked, keep a little of the cooking water, and then drain. Add the hot noodles gradually, in 2-3 batches (so you don’t scramble the eggs), to the eggy mixture, tossing as you go. Drizzle in a small amount of the cooking water and then toss well with tongs. The heat from the noodles will cook the egg, melt the cheese, and create an unctuous sauce. Top with more cheese and black pepper.
If you always have kimchi in your fridge like I do, making a bowl of spicy noodle soup is a cinch. Heat up some vegetable stock, drop in a couple heaped tablespoons of kimchi (both the liquid and the solids) and cook for a few minutes—the kimchi will mingle with the stock, creating a spicy broth. Season accordingly with salt and pepper, and top with items from your pantry, such as leftover tofu (pan-fried or silken both work) or roasted vegetables, scallions, sesame seeds, and more kimchi. A drizzle of sesame oil doesn’t hurt either.
This is a super fun way to create an entire meal in one pan. Rather than pre-cooking the noodles, I soak them in boiling water for 2 minutes and then drain. In a skillet, add a drizzle of oil, along with a few handfuls of veggies, some sliced onion or shallot, and once these soften, the noodles. Fry undisturbed for a couple of minutes, to allow the bottom to crisp up. The last step is to crack an egg or two into noodles, cover and allow the whites to firm up. Season well with salt, pepper, and dollop with some chile crisp or chile oil. While you could use any noodles for this dish, somehow, the wavy texture of instant noodles just creates the perfect contrast of crispiness to softness.
Miso is always a great source of umami to have in the fridge, and here, you can use it to make a quick broth. Bring 1 quart of water to the boil and then add 1-2 tablespoons of miso until you have a flavorsome savory broth. Add the noodles and when they are almost cooked, add some tofu, leafy greens, a lot of scallions and, if you have it, top with nori sheets.
Two things I often have in my fridge are a half-can of coconut milk and a half-used jar of Thai curry paste. If you combine the two, you’ll have a quick and easy Thai curry broth for your cooked noodles. Top with veggies, tofu, and scallions.
This is the part that actually makes this healthy. Take the packet of flavour that comes with the noodles and open it. Then dump Half of it on the noodles. Only Half. This should leave more than enough flavour and you will cut the sodium and other bad stuff in half.
Now, feel free to add anything that you desire to make this the most tasty experience that you will ever experience. I personally love to use honey mustard and sweet and spicy hot thai sauce. Lemon is also really good, along with a dutch seasoning sauce called Maghi. But don't take my word for it, try it yourself!
7 Shocking Health Benefits And Facts About Instant Noodles
Instant noodles are one of the most widely consumed food on the planet. They are lifesavers to busy university students, and other people with little time. They can be easily prepared and can be very delicious too. These are among the numerous benefits of instant noodles.
However, they have a lot of debate and controversies regarding the health or medical effects of instant noodles. Many people view instant noodles as an unhealthy food with no nutrients, still others view instant noodles as the perfect food for them. Since I care about your health, I’ve decided to write on the health facts about instant noodles, as well as the health benefits of instant noodles. I made meticulous research to find out the truth, myths and health facts about instant noodles.
Please, read and find how you can benefit from this article. But before we proceed, what are instant noodles? Let’s find out.
What are instant noodles?
Instant noodles are pre cooked noodles made from usually wheat flour, palm oil, and salt. They are steamed, dried and packaged and sold in packets or cups. Instant noodles are normally sold along with flavoring powder and probably seasoning oil. The flavoring powder is made up of salt, monosodium glutamate, seasoning, and sugar. Did you also know that instant noodles were invented? Yes, a Japanese, Momofuku Ando of Nissin Foods invented instant noodles in 1958. Today, instant noodles is a popular food is many parts of the world. China being the highest consumers of indomie and Indonesia coming in second. In 2007, Nigeria was ranked as the 13th highest consumers of instant noodles. Popular brands of instant noodles include, Top ramen, Cup noodles, Indomie noodles and Sapporo Ichiban.
Now, enough of the side talk, let’s find out some shocking health facts about instant noodles.
If you eat something very spicy and your mouth seems to be on fire, here are some home remedies that you bring to your rescue:
1. Dairy – This is the magic balm. A sip of cold milk or a spoon of yogurt will soothe your mouth and take away some of the burning sensation. A protein called casein present in dairy helps to break up the capsaicin and offer some relief from its effects. Milk is your go-to beverage to quiet the flames of spicy foods. Unlike water, which is made up of polar molecules, casein is non-polar, just like capsaicin. This results in repelling, which means it binds with the capsaicin and in doing so, it prevents from reaching the mouth's pain receptors. (Also Read: 7 Home Remedies For Indigestion)
Home remedies for spicy food: Milk is your go-to beverage to quiet the flames of spicy foods
2. Sugar or honey – Though you may think that the sweetness is what counters the spiciness, the truth lies elsewhere. If you've had a spoonful of that incredibly spicy gravy, it may do you good to head to the pantry and put half a teaspoon of sugar or honey on your tongue. If you have sugar cubes handy, you may suck on one for similar relief. The oil-based capsaicin gets absorbed by the sugar or honey and thus helps you feel better.
Home remedies for spicy food: If you have sugar cubes handy, you may suck on one for similar relief.
3. Starch – Reach for that fluffy bread or rice. Starch provides a natural barrier between capsaicin and your mouth, absorbing some of it in the process. Potatoes can also help make sure they are boiled and are devoid of any masalas. Make sure you have a raw piece of bread that will help soothe your mouth immediately. In fact, you can eat boiled rice that will help act as an absorbent buffer.
Home remedies for spicy food: Make sure you have a raw piece of bread that will help soothe your mouth immediately
4. Tomatoes and lemons – As surprising as this sounds, it has its base in pure science. The acidity of the spice can get neutralized with these alkaline foods. Pick up that salad plate and munch on a few tomato pieces for immediate relief. Oranges, pineapple and lemon juice have similar properties. You can gargle using tomato juice if not this remedy, eating raw tomatoes are another remedy for ulcers in the mouth.
Home remedies for spicy food: As surprising as this sounds, it has its base in pure science
Sweet potatos and bananas hurting?
Why would sweet potatos give me reflux.? I cant seem to find any safe foods and the belching is out of control.
Sweet potatoes are my absolute favorite and I though were a safe food, because, well, it's a potato. I have had an INSANE indigestion from eating a big sweet potato awhile ago, it was horrible. It's recommended to eat a maximum of half a cup because they're high in carb. I will never make that mistake again. I was miserable for days.
Bananas are better consumed not so ripe apparently, apparently the riper they get, the harder they are on the digestion. I forget why that is. I know they're high in carbs too. maybe you are sensitive to carbs?
Leafy greens and rice I find always super helpful. When I have crazy symptoms I order this giant salad from this fancy salad bar where I am from, it's like 23$ but it's so worth it, and I eat the full thing and feel great afterwards. Poke bowls are great also.
Okay, so what are the alternatives?
I know that 2 minute noodles are a quick and easy option, very cheap and kids generally love them. However, in light of the above information and depending on how often your family eat 2 minute noodles, you may want to start swapping over to something better.
Now, I am not saying that these options are necessarily super healthy – they are still processed to some extent, but they are a way better choice. They have either no additives or safer additives. You may need to try a few to get one that your kids like the taste and texture of.
Here are some you might like to try:
♥ Alb-Gold Mie Noodles
These are the closest in looks to 2 minute noodles. Made with just organic spelt or wheat (choose from either variety) and salt, these noodles cook in 6 minutes. Find them here.
♥ Organic Noodle Kitchen
You can get these organic noodles in a few different varieties made with just wheat flour, buckwheat flour and salt. Get them online here.
♥ Nutritionist’s Choice Brown Rice Instant Noodles Miso Flavour
Healthy and tasty miso & brown rice instant noodles that are wheat free, oil free and instant, prepared in two minutes.
The ingredients are: Noodles: 100% organic brown rice mushroom soup base: miso, vegetable powder (seaweed, carrot, corn, cabbage, mushroom), salt vegetable sachet: wakame, cabbage, carrot, tofu. You can get them online here (also in mushroom flavour).
There are other noodles you can try, like kelp and mung bean, but that might be stretching the friendship a little with the kids!! Have a browse in your local health food store and see what they’ve got.
This is What Will Happen Inside Your Stomach When You Eat Instant Noodles
Instant Ramen noodles are cheap, quick, and easy to make. What you don&rsquot know is that they are also potentially harmful to your digestive health.
&ldquoThe most striking thing about our experiment when you looked at a time interval, say in one or two hours, we noticed a processed ramen noodles were less broken down that homemade ramen noodles,&rdquo noted Dr. Kuo.
After two hours, fresh noodles were almost completely digested, the stomach broke down the noodles as it should. Looking at the instant ramen noodles after two hours showed that they were much less broken down, and almost fully intact. Dr. Kuo recorded 32 hours from the pill camera. &ldquoWhat we&rsquore seeing here is a stomach contracting back and forth as it&rsquos trying to grind up the ramen noodles,&rdquo Dr. Kuo said of his experiment.
The main preservative in Ramen Instant Noodles is Terriary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ). TBHQ is an additive commonly used in cheap processed foods, such as microwave popcorn, wheat thins, and poptarts. The FDA says that TBHQ must not exceed 0.02 percent of its oil and fat content. Small amounts of TBHQ may not kill you or make you feel sick right away, but could potentially have a long term effect on your health such as weakening of organs, and the onset of cancers and tumors.
Unfortunately, Dr. Kuo&rsquos study was too small to be conclusive yet, but millions of people are drawing their own conclusion. Processed foods still need to be investigated further, and more research is needed to determine the exact effect on our long term health. It&rsquos best to try to avoid processed foods, as they&rsquore not only harsh on your stomach, but also negatively affect other internal organs.
Sorry, Instant Noodle Lovers. The College Staple Could Hurt Your Heart
It's convenient, cheap and best served hot, but how healthy is it? The instant noodles commonly known as ramen — a staple food for college kids and other young adults, as well as people in certain cultures — may increase people's risk of metabolic changes linked to heart disease and stroke, new research finds.
In the study, women in South Korea who consumed more of the precooked blocks of dried noodles were more likely to have "metabolic syndrome" regardless of what else they ate, or how much they exercised, the researchers found. People with metabolic syndrome may have high blood pressure or high blood sugar levels, and face an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
"Although instant noodle is a convenient and delicious food, there could be an increased risk for metabolic syndrome given [the food's] high sodium, unhealthy saturated fat and glycemic loads," said study co-author Hyun Shin, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. [7 Foods Your Heart Will Hate]
Shin and his colleagues at Baylor University and Harvard analyzed the health and diet of nearly 11,000 adults in South Korea between ages 19 to 64. The participants reported what they ate, and the researchers categorized each participant's diet as centered on either traditional healthy food or fast food, as well as how many times weekly they ate instant noodles.
Women who ate instant noodles twice a week or more had a higher risk of metabolic syndrome than those who ate ramen less, or not at all, regardless of whether their diet style fell into the traditional or fast-food category. The researchers found the association even among young women who were leaner and reported doing more physical activity.
As for men, Shin and his colleagues guessed that biological differences between the genders, like the effect of sex hormones and metabolism, might account for the lack of an apparent association among males between eating instant noodles and developing metabolic syndrome.
The study was conducted in South Korea, an area known to have the largest ramen consumption group in the world, where people consumed 3.4 billion packages of instant noodles in 2010.
But the findings could apply to people in North American too, said Lisa Young, a nutritionist and professor at New York University who was not involved in the study. "We [in the States] don't eat it as much, but the ramen noodles are being sold, so this could apply to anywhere they're sold, and they're sold almost everywhere."
So what's so bad about instant noodles?
"Instant noodles are high in fat, high in salt, high in calories and they're processed — all those factors could contribute to some of the health problems [the researchers] addressed," Young said. "That doesn't mean that every single person is going to respond the same way, but the piece to keep in mind is that it's not a healthy product, and it is a processed food."
Processed foods generally contain high amounts of sugar and salt, primarily because they are designed to have long shelf lives.
But Young said there might be ways to dampen the dangers of eating instant noodles without swearing off of them altogether. "Number one, don't eat it every day," Young told Live Science. "Number two, portion control," she said, and recommended that people eat a small amount of instant noodles and mix them with vegetables and other healthier, nonprocessed foods.
Above all, however, Young said a little bit of preparation could help people avoid processed instant noodles altogether. "You can easily make noodles, homemade pasta, ground-rice pasta and veggies" at home, with a little bit of planning, she said.
4) Chili Cheese Dog
What You Need:
Cook the Ramen and set aside. Quickly stir in cheddar cheese while it’s hot! Microwave a hot and cute it up into bites. Add to Ramen. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder.
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