CALORIES

Calories tell you how much energy is in food. If you’re using up a lot of energy, like swimming, you’ll need to eat a lot more calories. For instance, a 35-year-old woman (let’s call her Babs) will burn around 46 calories an hour at a desk. But if Babs decides to swim the Channel she’ll need a lot more food because she’ll be burning around 500 calories an hour.

All our noodles contain between 49 – 56 calories per 100 grams, that’s less than one slice of white bread (79 calories). However, it’s actually more important to think of how nutritious food is. One of our pots is more nutritious because it contains a mixture of ingredients, offering a wider variety of vitamins and minerals.

FREEZE-DRIED

Freeze drying is like putting food into suspended animation. It locks in all the good stuff. Once you put the water back in, the food comes back to life, complete with its taste and nearly all its nutrition intact.

Don’t confuse freeze drying with dehydrating, which most other cup noodles do. Dehydrating sucks all the life and flavour out of the food. So you get very little taste and very little nutrition, making the whole thing…kind of pointless.

SALT

Recommended allowances say no more than 6 grams of salt a day for an adult. But how much is that? Well, 100 grams of cheese contains around 3 grams of salt. So you could eat 2 or 3 slices before your arteries start aching, but we wouldn’t recommend it.

So how do our noodles stack up? Well, we’re easily the lowest in salt of all the big noodle brands, with many containing over three times the amount of ours. We average just over 2 grams per serving, across our range.

HYDROGENATED FATS

The dreaded F-word. And as fats go, the hydrogenated ones are the Lord Voldemort of the food world. This is because hydrogenated fat raises the cholesterol in your blood, which increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. They don’t occur in nature and are a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster.

They start off life as polyunsaturated oils (like sunflower and flaxseed oil), but then hydrogen is forced into them to make them last longer. They tend to get stuck in your blood stream, and are harder to get rid of than chewing gum off a pavement. All our noodles are free from hydrogenated fats.

SUGAR

We all know sugar is bad for us, but how do we know if something contains too much sugar? As a very rough guide, if a label says 22.5 grams of sugar per 100 grams, that’s a lot. Whereas 5 grams is considered low. But beware. Some naughty brands hide their sugars by calling them carbohydrates.

The most sugar you’ll find in a Mr Lee’s Noodles is 0.7 grams per 100 grams (Zen Garden Vegetables). This is really low, so you can chomp away totally guilt-free. Compare this to other cup noodles which can have over three times as much as this!

PROTEIN

We all need it. It helps repair our bodies, grow muscle and keep our hair and skin looking tip top. On average we need 50 grams a day of the stuff. That’s equivalent to about four eggs, but don’t eat four eggs a day, unless you’re Cool Hand Luke (if you haven’t seen this film, it’s a classic).

Protein comes in many shapes and sizes such as meat and fish, but you can also get it from nuts, lentils and beans if you’re a veggie. Protein is mostly healthy but it all depends how you cook it. A piece of grilled fish is going to be far healthier than one that’s been deep-fat fried in a bucket of lard.

RDA’S

RDA stands for recommended dietary allowance or sometimes recommended daily average. They’re also called GDA’s (guideline daily amounts) and more recently RI’s (reference intakes). Whatever you call them, they’re a measure for telling you how much of a certain food you can have a day. They’re often found in little tables on food packaging, to let you know what percentage of your RDA the food contains.

But before you start getting out a notebook and calculator, they’re only to be used as a rough guide to stop you going over the top. For instance, if you have a chicken tikka for breakfast (why the heck not?) and it contains 50% of your RDA for fat, you know it’s probably a good idea to lay off the fatty foods for the rest of the day.

CARBOHYDRATES

This is the fuel that keeps your body going. Carbs have come in for a hard time lately, with people cutting them out to lose weight. Trouble is, we need carbs, otherwise, it’s not just our bodies that slow down, our brains do too. We need around 130 grams a day.

Carbs come from sugar (fruit, sweets and chocolate), starch (bread, rice and potatoes) and fibre (vegetables, pulses and wholegrain bread and pasta). The last category (fibre) is better, as it’s healthier and releases energy slowly, as opposed to sugar which gives you a quick hit but then leaves you feeling empty afterwards.

FIBRE

Fibre keeps your gut working properly and helps remove cholesterol out of the blood. Trouble is, most of us aren’t getting enough of it. Ideally, you need 30 grams a day to stay healthy but don’t have it all at once – you may start making inappropriate smells (who did that?). A little and often is the way to go.

The good news is noodles are a high-fibre food, delivering 1.6 grams per 100 grams. Other good foods to eat include wholegrain bread and cereals, jacket potatoes, porridge, apples and pears, popcorn, nuts, beans and peas. But, carnivores, fibre only comes from fruit and veg, not meat or fish.