Soba Noodles: Good or Bad?
The question is whether or not soba noodles are good for your health. There are many opinions out there on this topic. Some say that soba noodles aren’t healthy because they contain too much salt and sugar. Others claim that eating them can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
So what’s the truth? Is it all true?
Let’s take a look at some facts about soba noodles.
What Are Soba Noodles?
Soba noodles are thin strips of wheat flour that have been cooked into a noodle-like shape. They’re made from whole grain wheat and usually come in two varieties: regular and ramen style. Regular soba noodles are thicker than ramen style ones, but thinner than white rice noodles (which don’t require cooking).
How Do You Cook Soba Noodles?
You make soba noodles by steaming or boiling them until they become soft and pliable. They can then be eaten like pasta, but they’re often served with dipping sauces. Most Japanese restaurants serve their own version of soba noodles called miso soup, which is a mixture of vegetables and meat broth that’s typically thickened with soy sauce.
What Is Soba Noodles Good For?
Soba noodles are a good source of fiber and protein. They’re also naturally low in fat and cholesterol, but they’re not exactly a diet food. As with most types of noodles, soba noodles are made almost entirely from refined wheat flour, which means that they’re higher in calories and carbohydrates than healthier whole-wheat pastas. A 3-oz serving of soba noodles contains about 200 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrates, which is the same amount you should eat in an entire day if you’re on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Soba Noodles and Whole Grains
Some people use the term “whole grain” as if it were a synonym for “healthy.” While whole grains are indeed more nutritious than white breads and pastas, not all whole-grains are created equal. In fact, some types of whole-grain foods, like soba noodles, contain an ingredient called gluten that can be harmful to your body.
Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Most people who suffer from celiac disease have a severe allergic reaction to this ingredient. However, many people who don’t have this disease react negatively to gluten as well. These people often suffer from issues like irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, and migraine headaches.
Now, before you freak out about the potential dangers of soba noodles and throw them out completely, keep in mind that there haven’t been any conclusive studies on the link between soba noodles and disease. Most nutritionists agree that soba noodles are safe in moderation and can be part of a healthy diet as long as you don’t overdo it.
The take-home message here is to eat soba noodles in moderate amounts. Since they’re high in calories and carbohydrates, you should only eat them on occasion. Plus, since these noodles are often eaten in soup, you’ll want to measure out a 3-oz serving before you add it to your bowl.
How to Make Soba Noodles
Making your own soba noodles can actually be quite simple. You just need some semi-whole grain buckwheat, water, and a bit of salt. The most difficult part of the process is grinding these ingredients together into a fine paste. Once you do this, you form little noodle shapes and dry them out.
It’s a fun experiment and a novel way of making your own noodles. However, if you don’t have the time or energy to make soba noodles from scratch, then you can always buy them from the store in the refrigerated section where they sell Western dry goods, like pastas and chocolates.
When you’re ready to eat your soba, just boil them in some water for a couple of minutes and then season them however you like. Many people enjoy dipping soba noodles in a combination of soy sauce, wasabi, ginger, and hot water. Then again, soba is sometimes served with curry and other types of sauces, so you can use whatever recipe you have on hand.
Soba Noodles Side Effects
Soba noodles are safe for the majority of people to eat. However, as with all foods, there are some people who should avoid them or at least use them only in moderation.
People with wheat allergies or celiac disease should not consume soba noodles. Even if these noodles are made from buckwheat, they can contain traces of wheat, which can be harmful to people with these conditions.
Some people also experience side effects when they eat whole-grain foods like soba noodles. These side effects can include things like bloating, gassy intestines, and an upset stomach. If you experience any of these issues, then you might want to cut down on how much soba you eat or switch to a different type of noodle.
How to Prepare Soba Noodles
Now that you know all about soba noodles, it’s time to cook and eat! There are many different ways to prepare these tasty noodles. You can use the foolproof boiling method, which is explained in detail below:
Boil some water. You will need enough water to cover your noodles. Add 1 tbsp. of salt for every 2 quarts of water. Boil the water and then drop in the soba noodles.
Boil the soba noodles for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the noodles are done, strain them and then place them in a bowl. Serve with whatever toppings or seasonings you like.
These noodles are delicious all by themselves, but you can also experiment with different sauces and seasonings. Soba noodles go great with a Japanese style soy sauce, which has a richer flavor than the typical soy sauce you find on Chinese food take-out. You can also use stronger flavored fish or meat sauces if you prefer.
Where to Buy
Look in the Asian section of your local grocery store. You should be able to find soba noodles there. If you can’t, try looking in the refrigerated section where the Western pastas are found. These noodles are also available online through stores like Amazon.
Soba noodles are a traditional type of Japanese noodle. A popular dish in Japan is Zaru soba, which consists of cold soba served on a bamboo grid with other ingredients like chopped spring onions and wasabi. Many people also enjoy dipping the noodles in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, and grated daikon. It is believed that soba was first introduced to Japan from China in the 6th century. Over the years, the Japanese perfected their own style of making the noodles.
In fact, during the Edo period (1603-1868), approximately 800 tons of soba were consumed every year in Edo (modern day Tokyo).
Pros and Cons
Soba is typically a healthy food with little to no fat and lots of fiber. While it does contain gluten, nutritionists believe that most people can tolerate small amounts of gluten just fine. If you have celiac disease or a severe gluten intolerance, however, you should avoid soba altogether.
Whole grain wheat products can be hard to digest. Soaking them before cooking can break down the hard-to-digest complex carbohydrates and make them easier to eat and digest. It only takes about 30 minutes of soaking, and you can do it overnight if you’re short on time. You can also buy soba that’s already been pre-soaked.
Soak soba in a large bowl of water mixed with a couple tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice.
Rinse the soaked soba noodles well before cooking. This will remove any excess starch.
Gram for gram, soba has more protein than most other types of noodles, as well as a good amount of fiber and calcium. Soba is also naturally gluten free and low in fat and calories.
If you are on a low fat diet, soba is probably not the best choice for you. A 3-oz. serving of dry noodles contains 7.5 grams of fat. The good news is that most of this fat is the heart-healthy unsaturated kind.
In addition to being high in fat, soba also has a fair amount of sodium, so it’s best to not add too much soy sauce or other salty ingredients to your meals.
Soba is typically served just as it comes out of the soup. A popular way to eat it is to put the noodles in a bowl of water to wash off the starch so they don’t stick together, and then to drench them with hot water before adding the sauce. After soaking, You can add your favorite toppings and then eat.
You can also buy pre-seasoned instant soba noodles, which only require hot water to make. Some brands also make low-sodium versions of their instant soba.
Soba doesn’t only come in dried form. Some supermarkets sell fresh soba, which can be sauteed, boiled, or even eaten raw in a salad.
Soba is best stored in an airtight container. If it gets damp, place the soba in a plastic bag and put it in a dry place.
Most types of soba last for about a month if you store them properly.
Soba goes well with all types of soups and sauces. It’s especially good in miso soup, which is traditionally eaten for breakfast in Japan.
Soba is usually served with a special spicy sauce called tsukimi (moon viewing) sauce, named after the moon viewing festival. This type of sauce typically contains chili oil, soy sauce, and sugar.
The noodles are typically served chilled, so the custom is to eat them with a fork.
The most common way to eat soba is in a simple soup called sobanmi or zarusoba. The noodles are served with a sauce made from dashi, soy sauce, and mirin.
Thin buckwheat noodles are often served at summer festivals, because they’re light and refreshing.
Soba is also typically eaten for breakfast in Japan, typically served cold with a light fish stock called asazuke.
Sources & references used in this article:
Development of Rutin-rich Noodles Using Trace-rutinosidase Variety of Tartary Buckwheat (Fagopyrum Tataricum Gaertn.)’Manten-Kirari’ by T Suzuki, T Morishita, S Takigawa, T Noda… – Food Science and …, 2019 – jstage.jst.go.jp
The good, the bad and the downright beautiful! by S Black – Australian Coeliac, The, 2013 – search.informit.com.au
Kamisama by K Hiromi, K Hemmann – Japão: Kodansha, 1994 – academia.edu