It’s midnight and your stomach is growling as a pang of hunger hits you. Or, you need a quick fix for dinner and have no time or energy for food prep… What do you do? If you’ve ever had a steaming hot, sizzling, bowl of spicy Korean noodles, you know how easy it is to whip up a delicious meal within a few minutes.
These spicy Korean noodles, also known as Ramen noodles are universally loved right now. In fact, many people are enjoying instant ramen on a routine basis as they are bursting with flavors, and even a single serving is very filling. Plus, they are super cheap.
The real question is, are Korean spicy instant noodles bad for your health?
What Do Spicy Noodles Do to Your Body?
So, what does consuming spicy ramen noodles do to your body? This depends on the ingredients and nutrition present in each serving per packet.
One of the most popular brands of instant ramen is Samyang Instant Korean Noodles. Let’s take a look at the contents in one packet:
- Carbohydrates – 69g
- Protein – 10g
- Fat – 16g
- Sodium – 1870mg
- Vitamins – 0mg
- Calcium – 2mg
There is a very high sodium content in instant noodles. In fact, it is 81% of the recommended sodium intake for one adult, as stated by the FDA. High levels of sodium in the body can lead to serious health issues. Over the long term, this may result in raised blood pressure levels which can make you more prone to heart diseases.
More health issues associated with the consumption of instant noodles can result from the high levels of carbohydrates in them. According to The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) , a healthy adult should be consuming around 225-325g of carbs in a day. Just one packet of ramen noodles contains a considerable portion of this value.
An excess of carbohydrates can put a metabolic load on the body, which can result in weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease.
Korean ramen noodles, like other instant foods, also contain MSG or monosodium glutamate. This is used as a flavor enhancer or thickener that comes with the sauces in instant ramen. Hydrolized vegetable protein in ramen can also contain MSG. When consumed in large amounts, MSG can cause health issues such as headaches, nausea, high blood pressure, flushed skin. Some people are more sensitive to MSG than others.
Are There Any Health Benefits of Ramen Noodles?
Ramen noodles do have some benefits for body health as well. For starters, they can provide plenty of carbs. In just one serving, you get about 13% of your recommended daily carb intake. These carbohydrates promote energy, fuel your brain and bodily systems, and aid in digestion. For those trying to gain weight, ramen noodles can be a great snacking option.
Samyang noodles also contain a good amount of iron, an important mineral that helps carry oxygen in the body.
They also contain sodium which is essential, as it balances out bodily fluids. However, too much sodium should be avoided.
How Often Should You Eat Korean Spicy Noodles?
Korean ramen noodles do not contain a balanced amount of nutrients or all the vitamins and minerals needed by the body. You need to consume a good amount of fruit, vegetable, as well as protein, calcium, and mineral-rich food sources to stay fit and healthy.
We recommend eating instant noodles occasionally or one to two times every week. You should eat fresh foods as much as possible and limit the consumption of junk food or processed food.
Can You Eat Korean Instant Noodle Every Day?
Korean instant noodles should not be eaten all the time. Over-consumption of these noodles in the long term can result in overall poor quality of diet. These instant noodles should never be a staple food because this can result in serious nutritional deficiencies and adverse health issues in the long run.
All the sodium, carbs, and preservatives loaded in ramen can even result in metabolic syndrome. Essentially, this is a group of five conditions that can lead to heart disease, obesity, high blood sugar levels, and low levels of good cholesterol.
How Can You Make Instant Noodles Healthy?
If you have no other options but to rely on instant noodles, you can simply make them healthier yourself. For instance, while cooking ramen, you can incorporate an egg into it. You can add an egg directly to the noodle soup, or you can add a fried, poached, or hard-boiled egg once the dish is ready. This will add a good amount of high-quality protein.
You can also add a meat source such as beef, pork, or chicken strips. This not only tastes yummy but will also add more protein.
Lastly, why not add some fresh veggies too? The key here is to avoid adding more carbs into the dish. Look for fiber-rich vegetables like spinach, broccoli, carrots, or sweetcorn.
Other healthy additions for instant ramen include kimchi or tofu.
Why Do Koreans Eat Lots of Ramen Noodles?
It is a known fact that South Koreans consume the highest amounts of instant noodles in the world. It is convenient, affordable and the perfect comfort food for everyone. Noodles are among the main staple foods in Korea.
In fact, ramen noodles have a long-standing history in Korea, and their culture is also associated with them. Back in the 1960s, ramen or ‘ramyeon’ was a brilliant solution for Koreans who had money, but little time to cook. Instant noodles became immensely popular at the time and they continued to gain fervor all over the globe.
However, Koreans do not always eat instant noodles that come packaged with pre-made seasonings. Rather than eating the processed versions, they mostly eat homemade noodles or rice noodles as well as other more natural options. They also use fresh vegetables, curry, or natural condiments that are far healthier than instant noodles.
Are Korean Noodles Really Spicy?
Yes, Korean noodles can be really spicy depending on the flavor you pick. They can be extremely spicy, or milder but in general, the flavor profile is quite strong. It is best to start with the less spicy options and build your tolerance level before trying the super spicy flavors.
The main ingredients used in spicy Korean noodles include wheat-based noodles, artificial chicken flavor, soy sauce, red pepper powder, sugar, black pepper powder, soybean oil, red pepper seed oil, curry powder, roast sesame, garlic as well as dried laver.
The spiciest Samyang flavors are also known as ‘Korean Fire noodles’ on the internet. The spiciest flavor has to be 2x Spicy Hot Chicken flavor also known as Buldak Bokkeum Myun. This particular flavor is popularly used in many eating challenges because the level of spice is simply not tolerable for everyone. They definitely feel like fire to the tastebuds. So, try them at your own risk!
You can check the Scoville heat units to measure the amount of spiciness or hotness you should be expecting. On the packaging of the noodles, you will find this mentioned on the side or the back.
Which Samyang Instant Noodles Is the Least Spicy?
Samyang is a very famous name in the world of instant noodles. This noodle brand is available in a variety of flavors and boasts super spicy options for those who enjoy the heat. They have many variations of their spicy noodles and they provide different seasonings. Ramen lovers are obsessed with trying all of them.
Samyang noodles are available in flavors such as Jja Jang Myeon Hot Chicken, Ice Type Hot Chicken, Carbonara, Kimchi, Curry Hot, Mala Hot, Cheese Hot, Stew Type, Hot Chicken as well 2x Spicy Hot Chicken flavor.
If you want to try the least spicy of them, you should go for Samyang Hot Chicken Carbonara flavor. This flavor has a creamy, cheesy side to it which balances out the spiciness perfectly.
There is no denying that instant noodles are a great option for students, those on a budget, as well as people who are running short on time. The bottom line is, you should be careful not to consume too much of the same thing and missing out on all the other important nutrients that your body needs.