Are Ramen Noodles Bad for You? Here's What a Dietitian Has to Say (2024)

For many of us, ramen is the quintessential convenience food—easily accessible, budget-friendly and ready with minimal preparation (at least the instant kind!). Maybe warm, soupy ramen is your ultimate comfort food enjoyed at home, or perhaps it brings back memories of college days of late nights, salty cravings and limited budgets. Or maybe when you think of ramen, you conjure thoughts of exquisite, savory broth simmered for hours and chewy, fresh noodles served at your local Japanese eatery. Yet, if you're wondering if ramen is healthy for you, keep reading.

5 Easy Ideas to Turn Instant Ramen Noodles into a Healthy Dinner

Are Ramen Noodles Bad for You? Here's What a Dietitian Has to Say (1)

What Are Ramen Noodles?

According to the Ramen Museum New York, ramen is a Japanese noodle soup dish that originated from China as an import to Japan in the late 1900s. In post-war Japan, the worst rice harvest combined with food shortages helped popularize ramen, a wheat-flour-based food. Ramen food stalls started to spring up across cities and towns, with each region having its own take on the popular street food. In 1958, Momof*cku Ando, the Taiwanese-Japanese founder of Nissin Foods, invented instant ramen and catapulted ramen into global popularity and fame.

What Are They Made Of?

At its most basic, ramen is a noodle soup dish that consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles, broth and toppings. Instant ramen may consist of a flash-fried or air-dried block of noodles, a flavor packet, and dried toppings, which get rehydrated and cooked with boiling water.

Ramen Noodles

Ramen noodles are wheat-based noodles made of wheat flour, water, salt and kansui—an alkaline water that gives ramen its characteristic springy and elastic texture. Noodles can come in a variety of shapes and textures, from thin to thick and straight to wavy. Instant ramen noodles are typically flash-fried, making them shelf-stable food that cooks more quickly.


There are several main categories for ramen noodle broths:

  • Shoyu (soy sauce): A typically lighter, clear-brown broth seasoned with soy sauce, dried seafood, dried mushrooms or other proprietary ingredients.
  • Shio (salt): Light-colored clear broth typically made with chicken stock.
  • Miso (soybean paste): Creamy broth that can be light cream in color to red, seasoned with miso, a fermented soy paste.
  • Tonkotsu (pork bone): Rich, creamy broth made from simmered pork bones.


Ramen toppings vary widely but typically come with some type of protein (such as marbled, fatty pork slices, ground meat, fish cake or a soy-marinated boiled egg) and vegetables (such as seaweed, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bok choy or scallions). Instant ramen noodles may come with a packet of dried vegetables or seaweed.

Ramen Noodles Nutrition Facts

Here are the nutrition facts for a few popular instant ramen packages. Note that restaurant ramen may offer significantly different nutrition due to its preparation and toppings.

1 Serving SizeNissin Top Ramen Chicken (85g)Nongshim Shin Original Ramen (56g)Momof*cku Tingly Chili Noodles (95g)
Total Fat14 g8 g1 g
Saturated Fat7 g4 g0 g
Protein9 g5 g11 g
Total Carbohydrates68 g38 g63 g
Total Sugars0 g1 g5 g
Added Sugars0 gN/A3 g
Fiber2 g1 g2 g
Sodium1,590 mg1,050 mg1,400 mg

Are Ramen Noodles Healthy?

Ramen noodles are not inherently healthy or unhealthy, but they provide limited nutritional value on their own. They contain carbohydrates, fats, protein and some micronutrients like B vitamins and iron. "​​Objectively speaking, instant ramen noodles may not be the most nutritious option out there. They can be very high in sodium and may not contain much in the way of fiber, whole grains, vitamins or minerals," says Cara Harbstreet, M.S., RD, LD, founder of Street Smart Nutrition, "However, as with any food, it's important to look at the bigger picture because no single food will convey a health benefit or health risk by eating it."


Instant ramen noodles provide many benefits. They are widely available, budget-friendly, quick and easy to prepare, with limited kitchen equipment needed. Harbstreet says, "They are a carbohydrate-rich option that can be an easy and affordable energy source. You can buy them anywhere from a full-service grocery store to a convenience store or gas station, and often at a much lower cost than other packaged foods. It's also important to note the cultural significance of ramen. Traditional recipes from East Asian cuisines can be time-consuming to prepare at home, so offering a convenient way to enjoy similar flavors is important to many people who buy and eat them."


"Packaged instant noodles, including most ramen varieties, rely heavily on sodium for flavor," says Harbstreet. The flavor packets that come with packaged ramen are often very high in sodium (up to 90% of the Daily Value), which most Americans already consume too much of. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the DV for sodium is less than 2,300 milligrams per day, while Americans typically consume 3,400 mg per day. High sodium intake is associated with high blood pressure, a leading cause of stroke and heart disease.

Should You Avoid Eating Ramen Noodles?

There's no real reason to avoid eating ramen noodles unless you have a medical condition, such as celiac disease, which would prevent you from consuming any wheat products. You may also want to avoid consuming the whole flavor packet in packaged ramen or broth if you need to monitor your sodium intake due to sodium sensitivity or high blood pressure. However, when in doubt, consult your primary health care provider.

How to Make Yours More Nutritious

Add Vegetables

"One of my favorite strategies to add nutrition is to add vegetables! Anything from mushrooms to carrots to boy choy or cabbage can instantly add flavor, volume and nutrition to your bowl," says Harbstreet. Fresh and frozen vegetables typically work equally well since they will be cooked in the soup. Try our made with frozen broccoli.

Include Some Protein

"Adding a poached or fried egg can add protein, as can edamame or tofu," says Harbstreet. Other types of protein can include fish or seafood, chicken, beef or pork. Our delicious will become one of your favorite recipes.

Reduce Sodium

"To reduce the amount of sodium, you can use less of the flavor packet (I usually start with about half and adjust as needed). You could also strain the cooked noodles or serve with less broth to further reduce the amount of sodium in that meal," says Harbstreet.

Make Your Own Broth and Seasoning

Making your own ramen bowl from scratch at home may be more time-consuming, but the flavor and nutritional profile may be worth it. If you're looking for inspiration, check out our Healthy Ramen Soup Recipes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How unhealthy is instant ramen?

Ramen is not inherently unhealthy, but the flavor packet provided in instant ramen does contain high amounts of sodium. Diets high in sodium are associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, a leading cause of stroke and heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, you can decrease the amount of sodium in ramen by reducing the amount of flavor-packet contents added or not consuming all the broth or soup.

Is it OK to eat ramen once a day? How often is it OK to eat ramen?

"With as popular as ramen is, there are likely people around the world who eat it daily (or close to it). The idea that you have to limit how often you enjoy food like this is rooted in diet culture, and often the version of diet culture that deems processed foods or cultural foods inferior," says Harbstreet. "To be clear, I don't recommend that anyone sticks to a single food for the majority of their meals, but ramen is a broad category of food, and there is plenty of variety, satisfaction and nourishment to be found in any bowl," she adds.

Is there a healthy type of ramen?

The biggest drawbacks of instant ramen are its high sodium content and lack of micronutrients. However, some brands on the market may also offer low-sodium varieties. When asked about Harbstreet's favorite "healthy" ramen options, she comments, "Lately, I have been loving the chef-driven options that are newer to the market. This includes the line of Momof*cku noodles (from Chef David Chang) and the Saucy Noodle line from Omsom (a loud & proud Asian-owned brand)." Note: the Momof*cku line is created with A-Sha noodles, so they are air-dried rather than flash-fried.

The Bottom Line

Ramen noodles are a carbohydrate-rich, comforting, budget-friendly and widely available dish that can be enjoyed quickly whenever you'd like. While instant ramen is not bad for you, it isn't recommended as a single food daily or multiple times per day on its own due to its high-sodium flavoring packet or broth. Adding additional toppings, such as protein and vegetables, to the wheat noodle and broth base can increase its nutrition profile.

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Are Ramen Noodles Bad for You? Here's What a Dietitian Has to Say (2024)


Are Ramen Noodles Bad for You? Here's What a Dietitian Has to Say? ›

While instant ramen is not bad for you, it isn't recommended as a single food daily or multiple times per day on its own due to its high-sodium flavoring packet or broth. Adding additional toppings, such as protein and vegetables, to the wheat noodle and broth base can increase its nutrition profile.

Is ramen bad for your gut? ›

Ramen stresses your digestive tract.

Even after two hours, your stomach cannot break down highly processed noodles, interrupting normal digestion. Ramen is preserved with Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), a hard to digest petroleum-based product also found in lacquers and pesticide products.

How often can I eat instant noodles? ›

The ideal frequency is between two to three times a week only. They should not be consumed solely, since the dish itself lacks certain key nutrition groups such as protein and fiber, leaving a risk of having malnutrition if consumed in the long term.

What are the healthiest instant noodles? ›

The Best Instant Noodles for Healthy Instant Soup
  • Vite Ramen. The main selling point of Vite Ramen is that these instant noodles have all the nutrition necessary for a human. ...
  • One Culture Foods. ...
  • Immi. ...
  • Noma Lim. ...
  • Mike's Mighty Good. ...
  • Nissin All-In Instant Noodles. ...
  • House Foods. ...
  • Oh So Tasty.

How many times can you eat instant noodles in a week? ›

Therefore, instant noodle consumption should not be more than two packs a week and not be used as a routine habit.

Who should not eat ramen noodles? ›

However, those who are particularly sensitive to additives like MSG may want to steer clear of instant ramen noodles, as well as other highly processed foods. Instant ramen noodles may contain MSG and TBHQ — food additives that may be detrimental to health when consumed in large doses.

How many times can you eat instant noodles in a month? ›

Weekly, maximum you can enjoy instant noodles 1–2 portions. More than it, risk your health, from your internal organs. So if a month has 4 weeks, then maximum you can consume up to 8 portions of instant noodles, that your body may tolerate.

How to make ramen noodles healthy? ›

How to 'Healthify' Your Instant Noodles
Oct 25, 2023

Is it OK to eat 2 instant noodles a day? ›

The Bottom Line. In moderation, including instant noodles in your diet likely won't come with any negative health effects. However, they are low in nutrients, so don't use them as a staple in your diet. What's more, frequent consumption is linked to poor diet quality and an increased risk of metabolic syndrome.

Why do Koreans eat so much ramen? ›

But recently, a study in Korea proved how unhealthy eating a lot of instant noodles is. 💢That was the first key to its success, it was the ideal dish to feed simple working people, who had little time to stop and eat. They are also very complete recipes, nutritionally speaking, and there are options for all tastes.

Why do college students eat ramen? ›

Instant ramen noodles have become a staple food for many college students due to their affordability, convenience, and long shelf life.

What is the most unhealthy part of instant noodles? ›

The biggest drawbacks of instant ramen are its high sodium content and lack of micronutrients. However, some brands on the market may also offer low-sodium varieties.

Is top ramen or Maruchan better? ›

I'll admit that comparing the very similar noodles from both brands is definitely teetering on the edge of splitting hairs, but if you're stuck between Top Ramen and Maruchan during your next grocery run, go with the former for the broth.

Is there such a thing as healthy ramen? ›

"A healthy ramen can be made from whole grain or whole wheat flour," Catherine Gervacio, RDN and nutrition writer for Living. Fit, tells Eat This, Not That! "These provide more fiber and nutrients compared to refined flour noodles.

Are ramen noodles bad for you without the packet? ›

You might think that cooking up some instant ramen without the seasoning packet may be healthier for you than the whole package. It turns out, however, that even plain instant ramen noodles sodium levels are quite high. And most of the calories in ramen noodles, in fact, come from carbohydrates and fat.

What is forbidden ramen? ›

Japanese-style noodles made from our heirloom black rice instead of wheat. In addition to being gluten free, Forbidden® Rice is one of the most nutritious ancient grains. Our Forbidden Rice® Ramen has a delicious nutty taste and is a natural source of antioxidants (anthocyanins), magnesium, protein and fiber.

Does ramen contain BPA? ›

The chemical BPA is widely found in the styrofoam cups that often contain the noodles. BPA has been known to be a carcinogen and a hormone disruptor. A hormone disruptor like BPA can cause hormones in women, like estrogen, to develop irregularly and lead to diseases like breast cancer.

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