Meet the World's First Healthy Instant Ramen Noodles!

Immi is reinventing one of America’s favorite comfort foods, now packed with protein and fiber.

An inviting Asian dish featuring nutritious instant ramen noodles

sasazawa / Shutterstock.com

Flavorful, delicious, and requiring just a microwave or cup of boiling water to prepare, instant ramen noodles are one of the most popular foods in the world. According to the World Instant Noodles Association, 106.4 billion servings of instant noodles are eaten globally every year. But instant ramen often contains sky-high amounts of sodium and MSG, making the dish off limits to health-conscious people. Fortunately, food start-up Immi is reinventing the beloved comfort food by offering consumers healthy instant ramen noodles that are packed with protein and fiber.

According to Immi’s site, the noodles are the only 100% plant based instant noodle option on the market, and contain significantly less sodium and carbs than their competitors.

 
 
 
 
 
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The company’s two co-founders, Kevin Lee and Kevin Chantharisiphan, grew up in Asian households where ramen was a staple food. Lee told Food Business News that seeing ramen-lovers in their family give up the dish for health reasons, inspired them to come up with a healthier alternative.

“As we've gotten older, we've seen both of our direct families undergo chronic health conditions,” Lee said. “My grandmother is pre-diabetic...both of my parents have taken medication for high blood pressure for many years. We realized there was an opportunity to take our family backgrounds and build a better-for-you Asian American food brand.”

It’s hard to imagine two people more qualified for the task of creating an improved ramen noodle than Lee and Chantharisiphan. In a press release, Chantharisiphan detailed the pair’s deep family ties to the food industry. 

His grandmother ran a noodle stall in Thailand and his father owned a Thai restaurant and Asian supermarket in Los Angeles. Lee’s grandparents were produce farmers in Taiwan. With a rich family history in ramen and taste buds shaped by the dish since childhood, the duo were uniquely positioned for the mission. 

But the process wasn’t easy. Lee told Food Business News that the development stage took longer than they expected, as the pair struggled to develop a recipe for healthier noodles that still had ramen’s authentic, savory flavor. 

After trying some 200 formulas, and enlisting thousands of volunteers to taste-test the product and offer feedback, they finally settled on a unique plant-based blend made from pumpkin seeds and fava beans.

Lee and Chantharisiphan told Fast Company that their use of high quality elements led to another challenge - Immi’s price point. Consumers expect instant noodles to be cheap, and due to its premium ingredients, Immi must be sold at a higher price point. The pair worked hard to ensure that Immi still be relatively affordable, despite costing more than their competitors.

“The original instant noodles were a way to feed a lot of people after [World War II], when there was a lot of poverty,” Chanthasiriphan said. “Our goal is to go beyond just putting food in people’s bellies, but making sure this food is also nutritious.”

The Immi team is already polling their new customers on their desired new flavors too:

 
 
 
 
 
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Immi’s efforts in creating a healthier ramen noodle are extremely important for people who are working with limited budgets and kitchen resources. Consumers who are seeking an easy-to-prepare, affordable meal now have a more nutritious option at their fingertips. And for those who want a taste of nostalgia by eating a healthier version of their favorite childhood dish, Lee and Chantharisiphan are likely to strike a chord with millions of people across the world. 

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