Who didn’t depend on processed ramen noodles at one time or another, for convenience, economic reasons, flavor? If you were under-the-weather, they were fast to make and comforting.
It was easy to make them versatile too, adding meat or vegetables or even draining some of the water and using less of the flavor packet for quick and tasty noodles. The price couldn’t be beat so they became a staple for students or anyone on a tight budget, the stores frequently had sales on groups of packages as well.
The choice of flavors was nice, no boredom there. They were not only filling but fun to eat with the curly noodles.
Then we found out the truth, that the processed instant noodles contained tertiary-butyl hydroquinone, also known as TBHQ, a petrochemical, according to the Food Revolution Network. Quoting a study by Baylor University, eating a lot of processed ramen noodles containing TBHQ can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Here at A Quality Life blog we say that people with chemical sensitivities should not eat foods with TBHQ.
Processed noodles are apparently much harder to digest than fresh, according to a YouTube video. But, of course, there are grocery stores and restaurants that have unprocessed ramen noodles.
First, what are ramen noodles, really? There may be some debate over the origin. They are considered Japanese, yet are Chinese-style thin, wheat-based noodles. Even though they differ from soba noodles which are made from buckwheat and wheat flour, they were once referred to as chuka soba. Gluten-free ramen noodles differ as they are made with rice flour. Gluten-free options will be discussed more in Part 2.
Fooducate readers looked over the ingredients of a brand of cup style ramen noodles and complained not only about the sodium and TBHQ but MSG, artificial flavors and had other concerns as well.
AQL ventured to an Asian grocery store that had products from China, Japan, Korea, Hawaii, India and more. Not being noodle savvy, it was confusing at first. There were many refrigerated sections as well as a large dry food section.
One doesn’t just waltz in and the perfect ramen noodles fly into the cart. There were noodles that looked sort of ramen but weren’t. There were dry packaged noodles but not sure they were much different than the processed noodles in the supermarkets.
The choice was to try TanTan Ramen, Spicy Sesame Seed Flavor, from one of the refrigerated sections because the label said, “Fresh ramen noodle with soup base, no artificial coloring or preservative added to noodle.” These are made by Sun Noodle which lists locations in Hawaii, New Jersey, and California.
Granted, the package cost a lot more than processed ramen noodles, $5.29, but had two blocks of noodles and two liquid broth packets. The total weight was 12 oz. and then one would add 10-12 oz. of water per block and packet, whereas the supermarket dry package is three oz. and one would add 20 oz. of water to one block that supposedly serves two.
At any rate, the TanTan Ramen noodle ingredients were: wheat flour, purified water, wheat gluten, sea salt, sodium carbonate, cornstarch and riboflavin color (vitamin B12). The soup base ingredients were: water, hydrolyzed soy protein, sesame, vegetable oil, salt, soy sauce, sugar, soybean paste, alcohol, yeast extract, vinegar, garlic, ginger, clam extract, spice chili and fish extract., Nothing really alarming unless you have allergies.
However, there’s another element to consider here. A package of Maruchan® chicken flavor ramen noodles contains 1660 mg. of sodium. The package states the sodium is only 830 mg. per serving but that would be half a block. It’s more common, though, to ingest an entire block at one sitting for an individual. Remember, the weight would be less than the refrigerated noodles. The TanTan Ramen actually does contain two blocks so it would contain 1740 mg. for each block and packet or 3480 mg. for both.
The FDA safe limit for sodium is 2300 mg. per day, except for certain groups which should limit the intake further. So, these refrigerated noodles, while safer on many levels, actually have more sodium than the packaged. Certainly, ramen can be made at home if one has the time and energy. The quest will continue in Part 2.