Is It Safe To Eat Instant Noodles During Pregnancy?

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Many women crave instant noodles during pregnancy but are concerned about how safe it is for their baby’s health.

Instant noodles are generally not considered a good food option for pregnant women because they are high in carbohydrates and sodium, do not provide nourishment, have little nutritional value, and contain preservatives. These ingredients may interfere with baby development. However, if you want to eat instant noodles, you may explore ways to cook them more healthily.

This post provides more information about the nutritional value of instant noodles, their harmful ingredients, and some tips to make them healthier.

In This Article

Is It Safe To Eat Instant Noodles During Pregnancy?

Consumption of noodles during pregnancy should be minimum.

Image: Shutterstock

According to medical experts, it is best to stay away from them.

  • If you really must indulge, make sure there is no extra salt added (1).
  • Include vegetables to make it nutritious.
  • It’s best to keep the consumption to the very minimum.

Nutritional Value Of Instant Noodles

Noodles are made of wheat flour, starch, palm oil and salt. Sometimes wheat flour is replaced with buckwheat too.

Instant Noodles (Raw) 
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy1,895 kJ (453 kcal)
Carbohydrates65 g
Dietary fiber2.4 g
Fat17 g
Saturated7.6 g
Monounsaturated6.5 g
Protein9 g
Vitamins
Thiamine (B1)(61%) 0.7 mg
Riboflavin (B2)(33%) 0.4 mg
Niacin (B3)(36%) 5.4 mg
Folate (B9)(37%) 147 μg
Trace metals
Iron(33%) 4.3 mg
Potassium(3%) 120 mg
Sodium(77%) 1160 mg

One package is 80 g
Units μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

The Dark Side of Instant Noodles: What Makes Them Harmful?

Noodles are low on nutrients and high on sodium.

Image: Shutterstock

Pregnant women are usually advised moderate consumption of noodles due to the following reasons (2).

  • Noodles are grouped under junk food as they contain high levels of carbohydrates and fat.
  • They are very low on vitamins, proteins, fiber and minerals.
  • One of the biggest concerns with noodles is the content of sodium in it.
  • The current U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance of sodium for adults is 1,500mg/day (3).
  • Typical cup-type instant noodles contain 2700mg of sodium (per 100g of edible portions).
protip_icon Point to consider
High-salt diet during pregnancy may increase the baby’s risk of developing hypertension and renal disease later in life (6).
  • Pregnancy already involves the risk of high blood pressure. The extra amount of sodium intake can affect the baby negatively (4).

Johna Burdeos, a registered dietitian from Greater Houston, says, “TBHQ is short tertiary butylhydroquinone. It is an additive used to preserve the shelf life of processed foods, including noodles. Like many food additives, TBHQ has not been extensively studied in humans. However, there is controversy surrounding its use. There are studies showing that TBHQ is linked to the incidence of tumors in rats, vision problems in humans, and effects on human behavior.”

Tips To Make Instant Noodles Healthier

Add vegetables and eggs to make noodles healthier.

Image: Shutterstock

Only possible way to make noodles a little healthier is by adding fresh vegetables and/or hard boiled eggs.

If you must indulge in noodles when you are pregnant, make sure that you include a lot of fresh vegetables like peas, capsicums, tomatoes, potatoes etc. These vegetables also help in enriching the flavor of the noodles while upping the nutrition quotient.

  • Nestle Maggi tops the lists for the most selling instant noodle brand in South Asian countries. Their atta noodles and multigrain noodles are relatively healthier.
  • Also, Foodles by Horlicks is rated the healthiest of all instant noodles available in India.
  • Knorr Soupy Noodles also contain a decent amount of vegetables.
  • Another thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the oil that is used in the preparation of noodles. Instant noodles require not more than one tablespoon of oil for garnishing (most people prefer this than just boiling it in water.) Make sure that the oil is fresh and clean. Ensure it hasn’t turned rancid.
  • Always keep in mind that noodles containing added vegetables are loaded with extra preservatives.
protip_icon Quick tip
You may use only a small amount of the noodles’ tastemaker. Alternatively, you may skip the tastemaker and use homemade flavoring ingredients.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are ramen noodles safe to eat during pregnancy?

Yes, an occasional intake of ramen noodles during pregnancy is safe. However, ensure you are not consuming ramen noodles daily. They are usually made of refined flour and are loaded with chemicals and preservatives that might adversely affect you and your growing baby. Burdeos recommends, “If you are consuming large quantities of foods containing TBHQ, it may be a good idea to reduce that, whether or not you are pregnant. Consider looking for noodles that do not contain TBHQ.”

2. Can I eat Hakka noodles during pregnancy?

Yes. You can eat Hakka noodles during pregnancy occasionally. The monosodium glutamate or MSG in Hakka noodles will not harm you or your baby unless you eat the noodles in large amounts.

3. Why do I crave noodles during pregnancy?

According to experts, pregnant women experience cravings for several reasons, such as hormonal changes, a heightened sense of smell and taste, and nutritional deficiencies (5). These changes during pregnancy can trigger cravings for different foods, including noodles.

4. Can consuming too much noodles during pregnancy lead to gestational diabetes?

Yes, consuming excessive amounts of noodles during pregnancy can increase the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Pregnant women should focus on consuming foods with lower glycemic indexes, such as potatoes, and avoid fried noodles that are high in carbohydrates and unhealthy fats (7).

5. Can I eat noodles made with egg during pregnancy?

Consuming egg noodles in moderation can be beneficial as they contain high levels of folate (8).

Instant noodles have gained popularity and are now a frequent meal in many households. but when it comes to pregnancy cravings, it’s important to consider the concept of healthy eating. Pregnancy cravings may make a woman crave instant noodles, but one may wonder if it is safe to eat them. While it may be in the best interest of pregnant women to avoid eating unhealthy foods such as instant noodles, you can seek your doctor’s permission to indulge in small quantities and satiate your craving. In addition, you can make it healthier by adding freshly chopped vegetables and limiting the oil or salt added to them.

Infographic: Potential Health Risks Of Instant Noodles In Pregnancy

Pregnant women may occasionally want to satisfy their food cravings by having snacks such as instant noodles. However, it is essential to be aware of the harmful effects of the food you relish on yourself and your baby. Here is an infographic highlighting the possible risks of having instant noodles when pregnant. Check out!

possible side effects of instant noodles during pregnancy (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Instant noodles are not a recommended food option during pregnancy.
  • Instant noodles are high in carbohydrates and sodium but have little nutritional value.
  • A high-salt diet during pregnancy can increase the risk of hypertension and renal disease in the baby.
  • It is advisable to limit the consumption of instant noodles during pregnancy and avoid adding extra salt to instant noodles.
  • Adding vegetables and hard-boiled eggs to instant noodles can increase its nutritional value.
noodles during pregnancy_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Healthy eating.
    https://www.nhs.uk/start-for-life/pregnancy/healthy-eating-in-pregnancy/
  2. A comparison of food and nutrient intake between instant noodle consumers and non-instant noodle consumers in Korean adults.
    https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.782.1453&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  3. Dietary reference intakes for sodium and potassium (2019).
    https://www.nap.edu/read/25353/chapter/13#230
  4. Sodium Intake During Pregnancy, but Not Other Diet Recommendations Aimed at Preventing Cardiovascular Disease, Is Positively Related to Risk of Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6946899/
  5. Why Pregnancy Can Make You Have Weird Cravings.
    https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/why-pregnancy-can-make-you-have-weird-cravings/
  6. Alyssa J. Provagna et al.; (2016); Effects of High-Salt Diet during Pregnancy on Fetal Nephrogenesis and Hypertension Later in Life : Aberrant Renin-Angiotensin System Programming.
    https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Effects-of-High-Salt-Diet-during-Pregnancy-on-Fetal-Provagna-Beierwaltes/0f53fdbf6c3a81f1f7e374aaaf7108b731c5ff54
  7. Study on Effects of Dietary Structure on the Incidence of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus and Macrosomia
    https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/study–on–effects–of–dietary–structure–on–the–incidence–of–gestational-diabetes-mellitus-and-macrosomia-117642.html?view=mobile
  8. Good Food Sources of Folate
    https://winchesterhospital.org/health-library/article?id=10996
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Reda Elmardi is a registered dietician, certified nutritionist, and certified strength and conditioning specialist trainer. The 32-year-old is a certified nutritionist from the UNC's Online MPH with Nutrition concentration, and has around ten years of experience.

Read full bio of Reda Elmardi
  • Johna Burdeos
    Johna BurdeosRD Johna is a registered dietitian with 20 years of experience in clinical nutrition and outpatient nutrition counseling. She is also a freelance writer in the health and wellness space. Johna did her education at San Diego State University.
    Johna is a registered dietitian with 20 years of experience in clinical nutrition and outpatient nutrition counseling. She is also a freelance writer in the health and wellness space. Johna did her education at San Diego State University.
Anshuman Mohapatra
Anshuman MohapatraM.Tech (Biotechnology)
Anshuman Mohapatra is a biotechnology scientist with more than six years of research experience in analytical chemistry and biotechnology. He has submitted his PhD thesis at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati) and served as a research fellow (JRF/SRF) during his PhD tenure.

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Swati Patwal
Swati PatwalM.Sc. (Food & Nutrition), MBA
Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a toddler mom with more than a decade of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children.

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Dr. Joyani Das
Dr. Joyani DasM.Pharm, PhD
Dr. Joyani Das did her post-graduation from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra and PhD in Pharmacology. Previously, she worked as an associate professor, faculty of Pharmacology, for two years. With her research background in preclinical studies and a zeal for scientific writing, she joined MomJunction as a health writer.

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