Even though most people are familiar with the dangers of ramen noodles, there are still some who simply don’t accept this and proceed with its consumption. After all, this food which most college kids consume cannot be that bad, right? Well, according to a recent research from Baylor University and Harvard, it is very bad. The researchers have found that the consumption of ramen noodles significantly increases the risk of metabolic changes, associated with stroke and heart disease.
This staple food is loaded with Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), a byproduct of petroleum industry and food additive which is mainly used to preserve cheap and processed foods. There is a gastrointestinal specialist who conducted a little experiment in order to see what happens in the stomach after two hours of digesting ramen noodles. He put a time lapse video inside the stomach and the final results were more than shocking.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition, women in South Korea who consumed more of the dried noodles had bigger chances of developing a “metabolic syndrome”, no matter what else they consumed or how much they exercised in the meantime. What makes people with metabolic syndrome more susceptible to stoke, heart disease, and diabetes is the fact that this syndrome increases the blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
The dried noodle block was originally created by flash frying cooked noodles. This method is the most popular in Asian countries, while the Western countries prefer the air-dried noodle blocks. Salt, wheat flour, and palm oil are the main ingredients of the dried noodle. Salt, seasoning, monosodium and glutamate are the most common ingredients of the flavoring. Typically, with a consumption of a cup-type instant noodles you get 2700 mg of sodium.
As stated by the co-author Hyun Shin, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, “Although 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.”
Shin and his colleagues at Baylor University and Harvard analyzed the diet and health condition of 11,000 individuals from South Korea between 19-64 years old. The participants have accounts of the food they consumed, and the researchers categorized each participant`s diet as centered on either traditional healthy or fast food. They also took into consideration how many times on weekly basis the participants consumed instant noodles.
Shin explained that the study was focused on individuals from South Korea because this country has the highest per-capita number of instant noodle consumers worldwide. In addition, over the past few years, the health problems, such as obesity and heart disease have been on the rise in this country. However, the findings show seem relevant for other countries as well, as the United States ranked sixth globally in instant noodle sales, according to theWorld 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 above South Korea).
It was found that women who consumed instant noodles twice a week or more, had a higher risk of metabolic syndrome in comparison to the ones who consumed less, or not at all. In addition, their diet style either traditional or fast food didn’t make any difference. The same association was also found in young women who were leaner and more physically active.
Speaking of men, Shin and his colleagues suppose that the biological differences between males and females, such as metabolism and sex hormones, may account for the lack of an evident association among males in terms of eating instant noodles and developing the aforementioned syndrome.
As mentioned in the very beginning, this study was done in South Korea, a country which is known to have the largest noodles consumption group worldwide, where people consumed 3.4 billion packages of instant noodles in 2010. However, according to Lisa Young, a nutritionist and professor at New York University, these findings could apply to people in North America too. She explains: “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.”
What Makes Ramen Noodles Bad?
According to Young, “Instant 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.” She also adds: “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 processed food.”
The Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) found a cancer causing substance, known as Bezopyrene in six brands of noodles made by Nong Shim Company Ltd back in 2012. Even though according to KFDA the amounts were small and harmless, the company identified particular batches of noodles with a problem, prompting a recall by October 2012.
In addition to Bezopyrene, the ramen also contain Tetriary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ) which is known to have a long term effect on your health, including weakening of organs and triggering the development of tumors and cancers.
Moreover, all types of processed foods (and the ramen as such) typically contain huge amounts of salt and sugar, in order to have longer shelf lives.
Luckily, as Young herself explains, there is a way to stay away from the processed instant noodles. People just need a little bit of preparation which can help them avoid this unhealthy food. She says: “You can easily make noodles, homemade pasta, ground-rice pasta and veggies at home, with a little bit of planning.”