What it really means when you're craving ramen

Food cravings are unpredictable. Whether it's an uncontrollable urge for a dozen oysters, a squirt of Sriracha, or a french fry dipped into a milkshake, the folks at Medical News Today have figured out where these specific cravings come from. Basically, the regions of your brain that help you remember, feel pleasure, and experience reward have a huge helping hand in guiding your cravings.

That's all well and good for familiar fare such as sweets and salty snacks, but what about more specific cravings, such as a steaming bowl of noodles in a savory broth? Getting to the bottom of why some folks have a sudden hankering for this Japanese import isn't necessarily so simple.

While ramen can simply be described as noodles in broth, there are countless varieties of the slurpable soup out there, and figuring out which one you're in the mood for is key to finding out the reasoning behind this unique craving.

Salty cravings have several causes

Let's begin with the instant variety. These inexpensive just-add-water soups have been doing big numbers since their introduction in 1958 (via Vox). These staples for those on a tight budget (and people looking for a quick bite) are notoriously salty, which could have something to do with their crave-ability. One package can have up to 1,330 milligrams of sodium, according to Very Well Fit.

Salt cravings have several causes. Well+Good notes that an urge for something salty could come from everything from a bad night's sleep to day-to-day stress, or as a way for the body to re-up sodium levels after a particularly sweaty work out session.

Higher-end bowls of ramen with fresh noodles, paired with additions like slices of pork belly, soy eggs, and seaweed are craveable for far more beneficial reasons — namely the long-simmered broth, as there's an inherent healthfulness in ramen broth. The Globe and Mail reports that the bone-based broths that many ramen shops use can be qualified as something of a miracle food, containing nutrients derived from the animal products which benefit the human body. If you're craving this type of ramen, your body may be telling you it needs those nutrients.

Eating a bowl of ramen made with a bone-based broth might even help curb other cravings. Writing for Medium, Layla Michelle found that her taste for sweets and other not-so-good-for-you snacks were dramatically reduced when she introduced bone broth into her daily routine.