Freshman year: I had no license, no car and I didn’t have many upperclassman friends to take me out. Every day when the lunch bell rang, I found myself slowly trudging along with the sea of students waiting in the cafeteria line.
When it was my turn, instinctively I always managed to grab a Cup O’ Noodles, chicken-flavored of course. It was cheap: only $1, which is a third of the price of hot meals, quick to make and not to mention, incredibly delicious.
This process repeated every day until one lunch, I found myself staring in disgust at the yellow foamy cup in front of me. Not only did it no longer taste delicious, I found myself feeling lethargic and physically sick to the stomach.
That’s when I started to do some digging. What exactly was in this cup of noodles that I eagerly consumed every day?
Nissin Chicken Flavor with Vegetable Medley
What I ate every day and what is offered at the school for only $1 is Nissin’s Chicken Flavor with Vegetable Medley Cup Noodles. While the “vegetable medley” in its name is deceptively healthy, just like its taste, Cup O’ Noodles actually has 300 Calories per cup serving, made out of exclusively sugar, white flour and fat.
Of the 13 grams of fat, 9 grams are saturated, and the 1060 milligrams of sodium and carbohydrates come from refined white flour. Refined white flour or enriched white flour contains no nutrients and is equivalent to pure carbohydrates.
When refined flour is consumed, vital nutrients from healthy cells are stripped in order to metabolize the flour. In extreme cases, stripping away calcium from the bone can lead to osteoporosis.
While the numbers are alarming, the one that stands out the most is the 1060 milligrams of sodium. To put things in perspective, here are some other foods for comparison.
A small bag of classic flavored Lay’s Potato Chips, which is also served at school, only has 180 milligrams of sodium. That means a single serving of Cup O’Noodles has almost 10 times the sodium in a bag of Lay’s. Compared to a hamburger from McDonald’s, Cup O’ Noodles still has two times the amount of the 520 milligrams of sodium within the notoriously unhealthy cheeseburger.
While the Institute of Medicine recommends at most 1500 milligrams of sodium daily, our bodies only need between 180 and 500 mg in order to properly function. This means that combined with my two other meals besides lunch, I was eating an unhealthily high amount of sodium every day from a single Cup O’ Noodles.
So what exactly is unhealthy about the excess sodium in Cup O’ Noodles, besides the fact that anything in overwhelming amounts strains your body?
Consequences of High Sodium Intake
By itself, sodium plays an important role in the maintenance and balance of body fluids; sodium is also responsible for transmitting nervous impulses in muscle contraction and relaxation.
However, high sodium consumption retains water, causing the heart to have to work harder to increase blood flow through vessels, which directly leads to a rise in blood pressure. This imposes a major risk for heart disease and stroke.
While innocent little me back in freshman year had no idea about the Cup O’ Noodles or should I say, the Cup O’ Sodium I was chugging every day, now I know.
Next time, when eating a quick Cup O’ Noodles seems like the easiest solution, think again.