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Vegetable noodles and Dal noodles – are they healthy?

March 6, 2007

Now we have two new so-called healthy products in the market. Vegetable Atta Noodles and Dal Atta Noodles. Mostly targeted at children. Now, are they really healthy like the advertisements proclaim?

I thought I would check out how many vegetables the vegetable noodles contained. So I boiled some water and added the masala, and I found the following.

I wasn’t surprised and not at all impressed. I would have preferred to add the veggies myself. Then I checked the ingredients list:

This told me something. The first ingredient in the noodles was whole wheat or atta (the manufacturers are supposed to list the ingredients according to the quantity present. The ingredient which is maximum in quantity is listed first) and though this gives the impression that the noodles are mostly made of atta I knew they weren’t, from the taste and texture. The ingredient next in line is wheat flour, which means maida or refined white flour which as everyone knows is devoid of nutrition and fibre. The company has admitted that whole wheat flour and refined flour has been mixed. So even if we assume that they have used wholesome whole wheat flour, they have still mixed it with maida. Now, how much more of whole wheat flour have they used as compared to maida? We don’t know, because there is no legal requirement for the manufacturers to say so. The atta is probably marginally more than the maida. The other ingredients are vegetable oil, sal and guar gum. 😦

Now lets see what the tastemaker/garnishing or masala contains. Dehydrated vegetables (carrot, toasted onion, peas, coriander leaves). Dehydrated veggies are not as nutritious as fresh vegetables ofcourse. This report says that drying can cause some loss of some nutrients. While the calorie content of the vegetables does not change, and nor does the fibre content, Vitamin C is destroyed during the blanching and drying processes. B Vitamins like Thiamin, Riboflavin and Niacin also reduce during the blanching. However Vitamin A is retained if the processing is carried out under “controlled heat methods.” I am not sure what that means but I presume that the company manufacturing this product in India, being a multi-national, is using the technically superior method.
Minerals are usually not lost as long the vegetables get rehydrated in the same water and this does happen while cooking the noodles. In any case, even if the vegetables contain a few nutrients, they are negligible as the quantity of the veggies is abysmal. One expects more, specially because the noodles are being loudly advertised as vegetable noodles! The other ingredients listed are sugar, noodle powder, mixed spices, hydrolysed groundnut protein, salt, edible vegetable oil, garlic powder and onion powder.

But wait, this isn’t all. I haven’t yet mentioned that this masala also contains colour!! Colour, acidifying agent, a flavour enhancer and MORE colour! A natural colour this time. 😥

Now tell tell me how true their slogan is and how true the picture. The actual amount of vegetables you have seen for yourself.

The picture below shows the ingredients of the Dal Noodles:

Now why make a big song and dance about these noodles being HEALTHY? It is a false statement. 😡 It also misleads people. What bugs me is that this product is targeted at children and we know that kids today tend to demand the products they see on television. And in this case mothers might find it difficult to tell their children that this product is not good for health because the advertiser is saying it is.

Related Reading: Packaged soups which claim to be healthy are not that healthy!
Research shows that kids demand (and get) advertised products
The chemicals we consume in our everyday food
Poisons in our food packaging
Misleading packaging by Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower brand in India
Why noodles and other white flour products are unhealthy
Destruction of essential vitamins due to cooking
Our moods are affected by what we eat
Eleven reasons why Indians suffer from diseases

15 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2007 11:06 am

    This is the same here as well- for the sake of ease of preparation (speed) we sacrifice nutrition. And there is little food value for the money spent! The poor are especially susceptible to buying such products when really they could provide superb nutrition with raw unprocessed food prepared by hand… and children of the poor everywhere suffer!

  2. March 6, 2007 11:48 am

    Here I guess it would be the middle class as the poor in India cannot afford these foods. That is why it is sad. The educated middle class in India are buying these products and believing the advertisers inspite of knowing better. The consumer movement in India is very weak.
    In fact the poor here do not even buy ready made masalas (spices) which are an integral part of Indian cooking. They make all the powders and pastes at home as it is cheaper. The very poor ofcourse subsist on meals of dal (lentils) and rice and roti (home made bread) with some veggies which they can afford once in a while.
    Actually buying and eating ready made food is an elite concept here. Its a fairly new one too. Last five years or so it has caught on. One of the reasons why ready made food is not catching on fast enough is that even middle class people can easily hire cooks here. 🙂

  3. March 6, 2007 4:32 pm

    Oh this is a revelation Nita. I love noodles & used to consume it with a guilty feeling as I knew maida is not good for health. However I was elated that whole wheat has been introduced. But this is indeed an eye opener! Moreover these cup-o-noodles are freely available in my office and many people have it instead of proper lunch. 😦

  4. March 6, 2007 5:30 pm

    2 Minute Noodles were always unhealthy and hence the company changed its strategy to the increasingly health conscious parents.
    Infact, they have launched Rice Noodles – God Only Knows what is that….but its been advertised off lately.

    Its a Marketing Sin!!!!

  5. soorajrox permalink
    March 6, 2007 7:50 pm

    That was educational. I use to eat them for my breakfast most of the days. My guess is that most the people didn’t think how important it was after all the ads the noodles have produced.
    Too much of these will be bad for health.
    I saw a documentary before of how McDonalds affected the people in the US. The name of the documentary is “Super size me”. Perhaps all the parents should watch it to keep their children and themselves away from too much of junk food.

  6. sandhya permalink
    March 11, 2007 7:27 pm

    A eye opener
    very interesting article especially for a mother of a 5 year old ARDENT FAN OF NOODLES

  7. November 28, 2007 11:09 am

    This is good news that there will be self regulation. But I am not sure self-regulation things work here? We have laws, but no enforcement. Can we expect self-regulation then?

  8. November 28, 2007 11:23 am

    @Poonam Sharma:

    When there are laws it’s the government which has to enforce them. and we all know how bad that can get! the only glimmer of hope is self-regulation which I feel will work better in a country like India here laws cannot be enforced anyway and usually corruption adds to the woes. when industry itself makes the laws there is some hope that they will keep their own fraternity in line, again just a hope!
    Ideally there should be strict laws but only if they can be strictly implemented do they have any meaning!

  9. June 13, 2008 6:19 pm

    I had some of the Atta noodles a couple of days ago. They are certainly not as good tasting as the Maggi Noodles.

  10. wishtobeanon permalink
    June 26, 2008 8:35 pm

    Hi Nita, thought you may be interested in these links – you may have seen them already, if not, here it is:

    Thanks! Will check them out. – Nita.

  11. August 24, 2008 3:29 pm

    Dear Sir,
    Please contact e i will eveal more secrts of Noodles compny cheating public.

  12. Nisha permalink
    December 22, 2008 5:21 pm

    You should also note that instant noodles are usually fried during the manufacturing process.

  13. October 7, 2011 6:58 pm

    There is nothing like processed ‘healthy’ food. It is not just noodles, even whole wheat bread that you buy from the shops are bogus. Less than 50% of the flour is whole wheat, plus they are baked in a lot of trans-fat and low quality ingredients. It is not just Indians who are susceptible to aggresive marketing, even Americans are fooled by catchwords that claim a variant of the food is healthier than the rest.
    If you want to eat healthy, stick to whole (unprocessed) foods that you cook, bake and make yourself. And to be honest, it is not that difficult. I don’t know why people are so averse to cooking these days, seriously, isn’t spending a little time and effort on the food you eat worth better than slogging it out at work?

  14. Rashminder permalink
    August 12, 2012 3:33 pm

    Lot of these so called Healthy – Tasty products have many hidden ingredients which are not even listed. Many products contain hidden MSG which is not really listed on the label. I think companies only prominently display the so called ‘HEALTHY’ side of it and smartly disguises the bad ingredients. I follow one rule and that is ‘Avoid whatever comes in a fancy pack’ be it noddles or soap…I suppose we are made to believe we need these products and that is the catch. We just need to know that we really can do without these products…there was life before these products and human beings lived without processed and packaged food.


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