Ramen Noodle Nutrition Facts

How to Make These Packaged Noodles Healthier

Ramen, annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Instant ramen noodles (or cup noodles) are dehydrated noodles that come with soup-flavored powders. They're inexpensive and easy to prepare—just add hot water and in about three minutes you have a meal. The problem, however, is these packaged noodles are high in fat and sodium and not all that nutritious. Take a look at the label and you'll see there are two servings per package.

This means that half of the package of ramen noodles has about 190 calories, 27 grams of carbohydrates, and 7 grams total fat, including 3 grams of saturated fat. And the worst culprit? One package of ramen noodles has about 1,330 milligrams of sodium.

The Nutritional Breakdown

Unfortunately, there really aren't any health benefits of ramen noodles other than a good amount of iron, which is necessary for moving oxygen throughout the body and preventing fatigue and anemia (iron deficiency). However, because these instant noodles are high in sodium and fat (including saturated fat) and they are low in fiber—and very low in any real nutrients—the negatives outweigh the one positive.

These instant ramen noodles also will not help with weight loss. They are low in fiber and protein—two important factors in losing weight—and are calorie-dense considering the package is small; even if you eat the whole package (2 servings), you're probably going to be hungry again in a short time. Plus, since they're high in sodium, eating ramen noodles can lead to bloating and water retention, which doesn't help when you're trying to lose weight.

A Healthy Ramen Makeover

Although you don't want to depend on cup noodles as a staple food, you can improve their nutritional value by adding additional ingredients that are low in calories but high in nutrients. That way, you'll still have an inexpensive meal that isn't entirely bad for you, while you increase the volume. Since you will also be increasing the servings you get from the ramen packet, consider sharing this meal or saving half for another day.

The addition of chicken and vegetables adds vitamins and protein without adding much fat. Each serving still has close to 200 calories, but it only has 4.5 grams of fat and less than 2 grams of saturated fat. This makeover also increases the fiber from 1 gram to about 2.5 grams and added lots of vitamin A, lutein, and B vitamins. Adding vegetables and lean meats adds volume to the meal and can increase feelings of fullness.

What You'll Need

  • Package of instant ramen noodles or cup noodles
  • 1 cup cooked chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (such as peas, carrots, and onions)

Prepare your noodles by cooking one package of chicken flavor ramen noodles in three cups of boiling water until noodles are soft. Add the flavor packet. Add cooked chicken breast meat and frozen vegetables. Stir until vegetables are heated thoroughly.

So far, so good—but you can improve the health value even more. Round out this meal with a small garden salad with olive oil or walnut oil and vinegar or a light salad dressing. Now you have added some healthy fats and even more vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

More Ramen Tips

Although chicken and frozen vegetables are a natural addition to ramen, you can be creative and try other proteins, vegetables, and flavorings. Add shrimp or cooked fish for healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids, or vegetarian protein (such as tofu or legumes) for added fiber and protein. Enhance the flavor with sesame oil, mushrooms, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots.

If you want to cut back the sodium even more, you can reduce the amount of powder from the flavoring pack. Supplement by adding flavor with garlic, pepper, or your favorite herbs.

If you prefer the styrofoam cups of ramen noodles, remember that each cup is two servings. Prepare your cup of noodles with hot water and pour the noodles over cooked vegetables and meat. As with the ramen noodle makeover, you have now doubled the servings to four.

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