dangers of ramen noodles are self-evident to most, however there will
always be those who will deny the dangers of consuming them. After all,
it’s a staple food for college kids so how bad could it be? It can’t
kill you right? New research from Baylor University and Harvard says it
can. The noodles increase people’s risk of metabolic changes linked to
heart disease and stroke, researchers found.
noodles contain Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), which is a
byproduct of the petroleum industry and food additive frequently to
preserve cheap processed foods. A gastrointestinal specialist conducted
an experiment with a time lapse video inside the stomach to what would
happen after two hours of digesting ramen noodles and the results were
the most recent study in the Journal of Nutrition, women in South Korea
who consumed more of the precooked blocks of dried noodles were more
likely to have “metabolic syndrome” regardless of what else they ate, or
how much they exercised, the researchers found. People with metabolic
syndrome may have high blood pressure or high blood sugar levels, and
face an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
dried noodle block was originally created by flash frying cooked
noodles, and this is still the main method used in Asian countries,
though air-dried noodle blocks are favoured in Western countries. The
main ingredients of the dried noodle are wheat flour, palm oil, and
salt. Common ingredients of the flavouring powder are salt, monosodium
glutamate, seasoning, and sugar. A typical cup-type instant noodles
contain 2700 mg of sodium.
instant noodle is a convenient and delicious food, there could be an
increased risk for metabolic syndrome given [the food’s] high sodium,
unhealthy saturated fat and glycemic loads,” said study co-author Hyun
Shin, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard School of Public Health in
and his colleagues at Baylor University and Harvard analyzed the health
and diet of nearly 11,000 adults in South Korea between ages 19 to 64.
The participants reported what they ate, and the researchers categorized
each participant’s diet as centered on either traditional healthy food
or fast food, as well as how many times weekly they ate instant noodles.
study focused on individuals in South Korea, Shin said, as the country
has the highest per-capita number of instant noodle consumers in the
world, and because, in recent years, health problems there, including
heart disease and obesity, have been on the rise. But the findings
appear to be quite relevant to consumers stateside too, as the United
States ranked sixth globally in instant noodle sales, according to the
World Instant Noodles Association, which found that the United States
accounted for 4,300 billion units sold in 2013 (coming in just behind
China, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, and India — and one spot above South
Korea, in fact).
who ate instant noodles twice a week or more had a higher risk of
metabolic syndrome than those who ate ramen less, or not at all,
regardless of whether their diet style fell into the traditional or
fast-food category. The researchers found the association even among
young women who were leaner and reported doing more physical activity.
for men, Shin and his colleagues guessed that biological differences
between the genders, like the effect of sex hormones and metabolism,
might account for the lack of an apparent association among males
between eating instant noodles and developing metabolic syndrome.
study was conducted in South Korea, an area known to have the largest
ramen consumption group in the world, where people consumed 3.4 billion
packages of instant noodles in 2010.
the findings could apply to people in North American too, said Lisa
Young, a nutritionist and professor at New York University who was not
involved in the study. “We [in the States] don’t eat it as much, but the
ramen noodles are being sold, so this could apply to anywhere they’re
sold, and they’re sold almost everywhere.”
So what’s so bad about instant noodles?
noodles are high in fat, high in salt, high in calories and they’re
processed — all those factors could contribute to some of the health
problems [the researchers] addressed,” Young said. “That doesn’t mean
that every single person is going to respond the same way, but the piece
to keep in mind is that it’s not a healthy product, and it is a
June 2012, the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) found
Benzopyrene (a cancer causing substance) in six brands of noodles made
by Nong Shim Company Ltd. Although the KFDA said the amounts were
minuscule and not harmful, Nong Shim did identify particular batches of
noodles with a problem, prompting a recall by October 2012.
also contain TBHQ (Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone) which can have a long
term effect on your health such as weakening of organs and contributing
to the onset of cancers and tumors.
Processed foods generally contain high amounts of sugar and salt, primarily because they are designed to have long shelf lives.
all, however, Young said a little bit of preparation could help people
avoid processed instant noodles altogether. “You can easily make
noodles, homemade pasta, ground-rice pasta and veggies” at home, with a
little bit of planning, she said.
Longo has a master’s degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and
nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and
procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.
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