Doctor gives opinion on how to slot a daily bowl of ramen into a healthy diet.

Flavorful and filling, ramen seems like the perfect example of an edible guilty pleasure. It’s the sort of thing we want to eat every day, but know that we shouldn’t.

Except at least one doctor in Japan says it’s more or less OK to give in to that specific temptation. Yumie Ichihara, a doctor of internal medicine and diabetes specialist, was recently interviewed by Internet portal Otonanswer, who asked “There are some people who eat ramen every day, but does that present a [health] problem?”

“Even if you eat ramen every day, it’s not such a problem,” was Ichihara’s surprising response, but it came with one important exception, “as long as it’s not tonkotsu ramen.”

See, there are many different types of ramen, but the primary way to classify them is by their broth. Soy and miso-broth ramen are fine as every-day foods, Ichihara says, as a bowl of either is usually about 500 to 800 calories, not an entirely unreasonable amount for a meal. However, tonkotsu, or pork stock ramen, aside from being particularly popular in southwestern Japan, is also particularly high in fat, and thus calories. Eating such high-calorie fare on a daily basis can increase your risk of a variety of health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, so if you can’t go a day without ramen, Ichihara recommends making most of them days for non-tonkotsu types.

Also, regardless of what type of broth your noodles are floating in, Ichihara cautions against drinking all of it, because of its high sodium content. If you do insist on draining your bowl, Ichihara says you’re using up about 70 percent of the suggested sodium intake for an adult right there, which is probably going to put you over the limit once you have your other meals for the day.

In addition, while Ichihara says there’s nothing wrong with eating (non-tonkotsu) ramen every day, that doesn’t mean you should eat only ramen. “A bowl of ramen doesn’t have many vegetables, so you won’t get many vitamins or minerals,” she explains, “so it’s not a particularly balanced dish, nutritionally speaking.” So to compensate for those shortcomings, she encourages you to pair your ramen with some sort of vegetable dish. “I also recommend adding chashu pork or a nitama [stewed hard-boiled egg] for protein.”

Taken all together, though, you might notice a potential issue with this advice. Ichihara starts off by saying that non-tonkotsu ramen itself is OK in terms of calories, and she even mentions that the carbohydrate count isn’t too bad. But if you start adding side dishes, chashu (which isn’t the leanest meat by any means), and eggs, all of those are extra calories, and eating eggs every day probably isn’t going to be doing your cholesterol level any favors either.

As with any meal plan, it’s important to factor in your complete diet in order to determine your body is getting the things it needs without getting too much of the things it doesn’t, and that process can be complex and individualized enough that it’s generally a good idea to personally consult with a nutritionist before you make any drastic changes in your eating habits. In Ichihara’s broad opinion, though, ramen isn’t something she thinks you have to save for only the most special of special occasions.

Source: Otonanswer via Otakomu via Livedoor News
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s a big fan of Yokohama iekei-style ramen.