What Are Instant Noodles?
Instant noodles are a type of pre-cooked noodle, usually sold in individual packets or cups and bowls.
Typical ingredients in the noodles include flour, salt and palm oil. The flavoring packets generally contain salt, seasoning and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
After the noodles have been made in the factory, they are steamed, dried and packaged.
Each package contains a block of dried noodles as well as a packet of flavoring and/or oil for seasoning. Buyers cook or soak the block of noodles in hot water with the flavoring before eating it.
SUMMARY: Instant noodles are pre-cooked noodles that have been steamed and dried. They're usually soaked in hot water before they're eaten.
Nutrition Facts for Instant Noodles
Though there can be a good deal of variability between different brands and flavors of instant noodles, most types have certain nutrients in common.
Most types of instant noodles tend to be low in calories, fiber and protein, with higher amounts of fat, carbs, sodium and select micronutrients.
One serving of beef-flavored ramen noodles contains these nutrients :
· Calories: 188
· Carbs: 27 grams
· Total fat: 7 grams
· Saturated fat: 3 grams
· Protein: 4 grams
· Fiber: 0.9 grams
· Sodium: 861 mg
· Thiamine: 43% of the RDI
· Folate: 12% of the RDI
· Manganese: 11% of the RDI
· Iron: 10% of the RDI
· Niacin: 9% of the RDI
· Riboflavin: 7% of the RDI
It's also worth noting that there are some special varieties available that are marketed as healthier options. These may be made using whole grains or have lower amounts of sodium or fat.
SUMMARY: The majority of instant noodles are low in calories, fiber and protein, but high in fat, carbs, sodium and some micronutrients.
Instant Noodles May Provide Important Micronutrients
Despite being relatively low in some nutrients like fiber and protein, instant noodles contain several micronutrients, including iron, manganese, folate and B vitamins.
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.
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.
Research has also shown that eating instant noodles could be associated with an increase in the intake of certain micronutrients.
A 2011 study compared the nutrient intake of 6,440 instant noodle consumers and non-instant noodle consumers.
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.
SUMMARY: Some types of instant noodles are fortified to add extra vitamins and minerals. Instant noodle intake may be linked to a higher intake of riboflavin and thiamine.
Written by Rachael Link, MS, RD on April 15, 2017