We are seeing a war for your breakfast and snack bowl between oats and instant noodles! In the print media and TV, The companies making savory oat breakfasts are openly talking about how their product is healthier than instant noodles. So what is the truth? Which is the healthier options? What are the hidden unhealthy aspects of the ‘healthy’ oat breakfast? Read the details below:
This comparison is based on packet sizes of noodles (typically 65 gms to 70 gms) and that of instant oat breakfasts ( 39 grams). It includes products with trade names Maggi, Yippee, Knorr, Top Ramen, Wai-Wai, Saffola Oats and Kellog Oats.
Calories from one pack/serving: instant noodles vs instant oat meal breakfast
As we can see: the oat breakfast gives slightly lesser calories than noodles per pack and also lesser than what a person with 1400 calories diet plan should get in breakfast ( 30% of total calories)
Nutrient comparison: how do instant noodles and oats compare?
Protein content of noodles vs. oats
As you can see neither instant oat breakfast nor instant noodles give as many calories as recommended for a 1400 calorie/day diet breakfast. But oat breakfast is more protein dense than instant noodles. Also among noodles the oats noodles are more protein dense than aata (whole wheat) noodles, which are slightly better than regular ones
Fiber content of oats vs. noodles
Instant oat breakfast indeed gives more fiber than recommended for 1400 cal/day diet breakfast. It is a very good thing and selling point of the oats commercials. The noodles give lesser fibers than recommended for more calories.
Fat and saturated fat content of instant noodles vs. instant oats
As expected the instant noodles have much more fat than is recommended for a healthy breakfast. Instant oat breakfasts have lesser fats than recommended for a healthy breakfast whereas instant oats have less than recommended. According to tradition food science, which said ‘the lesser the fat, the healthier the meal’ this would be a huge advantage. But, in recent times, fat has evolved to be not a purely ‘ bad’ nutrient, especially for Indians, whose food peril is eating too many simple carbs. Rather, there are good fats such as MUFAs and PUFAs and bad fats, which include saturated fats and trans fats. So let’s look at their content in these foods.
In all instant noodles and oats, the amount of trans fats is minimal, as per their food labels.
If we look at saturated fats, the noodles have much higher levels than recommended, whereas oats have lesser. This is a good nutrition win for the instant oats breakfasts!
But, our last comparison will show you the hidden ‘bad nutrition’ that all of them provide. It is this factor which will convince you about why having instant oat breakfasts is not a healthy idea for people with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or even for those without these risks
The dangerously high salt ( sodium) content in instant oats and noodles
As we can see, all of the instant foods compared here give more than double the recommended amount of sodium as compared to a healthy breakfast. Among all these, the instant oats have highest salt content!
In fact, the sodium allowance for a whole day’s diet is 2300 mg for healthy adults and 1800 mg for people with high blood pressure. One instant meal can give you nearly all of that ! High salt content adds to higher blood pressure, strain on the heart and can lead to heart problems including heart failure.
That is why, here is our finally recommendation on Instant flavored oat meals and breakfasts: avoid them as much as you can. Instead make your own oats poha, upma, idli or other breakfast starting with simple non flavored oats available in the market
As regards, instant noodles, they are also best avoided, as for more calories than needed in a healthy meal they give less protein, fiber and more saturated fats and salt. Even though atta and oats noodles fare a little better than regular ones, none of them is worthy of becoming a regular meal
If you would like to see the whole table of nutrients for nearly all the instant noodles and oats flavors, you can check out ‘ FHI nutrient sheet: oats and instant noodles’
To know more about healthy eating: check out: https://www.forhealthyindia.com/foodwise-principles-for-planning-a-healthy-diet/