Why Do Ramen Noodles Contain So Much Sodium and Fat Per Serving?

The ingredients in the noodles and in the package of flavorings are listed separately, so you can easily find out which contains what.

The salt (usually lots of it) is in the flavorings. You might not expect the noodles to contain fat, but surprisingly, that’s where most of it is hiding.

I know you’ve always wondered how they make that compact, rectangular block of perfectly intertwined curlicues, and so have I, so here’s what your question has stimulated me to find out.

The dough is first extruded through a row of nozzles to make a ribbon of long, side-by-side wavy strands. The ribbon is then cut to length and folded over onto itself, after which it is held in a mold while being deep-fried, which dries out the noodles so that the block will hold its convoluted shape ever after.

The deep frying, of course, adds fat to the noodles, and although there may be a small amount of oil in some seasoning mixes, virtually all of the fat is therefore in the noodles.

A few brands of ramen noodles are air-dried instead of being fried, but unless it says so on the package, the only way to tell is the absence of fat in the noodles’ ingredient list. A little arithmetic applied to the Nutrition Facts charts on the labels of four leading brands showed that, except for the hot water, the ingredients in a bowl of ramen soup ranged from 17 to 24 percent fat.

So if you think that ramen noodles are “just pasta,” you may want to think again.