Instant Ramen Noodles: Why They May Not Be As Safe As You Think
Instant ramen noodles have become a popular choice for quick and easy meals, particularly among college students and those looking for a quick snack. While China has the highest per-capita consumption of instant noodles, the United States is not too far behind, ranking sixth in instant noodle sales after China and other Asian countries. However, despite their convenience and popularity, research has shown that instant ramen noodles may be more detrimental to our health than previously thought.
Here are several reasons why instant ramen noodles might not be the safest food to consume:
1. Increased risk of metabolic syndrome for women
Instant ramen noodles are made by either flash-frying or air-drying noodle blocks and then packaging them with seasoning that includes monosodium glutamate. A typical cup of noodles contains at least 2,700 milligrams of sodium, while the FDA recommends that the maximum sodium intake be 2,300 milligrams per day (1,500 milligrams for certain high-risk populations). According to a study conducted by the Journal of Nutrition, women who consumed instant ramen with these types of unhealthy ingredients were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, no matter how much they exercised or what else their diet consisted of. This is because some of the main contributors to the ramen’s ingredients are high in sodium, unhealthy saturated fats, and glycemic loads. Individuals with metabolic syndrome are more likely to develop chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Women, in particular, are believed to suffer from an increased risk of metabolic syndrome because of their differing hormone levels and metabolic rates compared to men.
2. The presence of Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ)
TBHQ is a chemical byproduct that comes from the petroleum industry and is an inexpensive food additive used to cheaply preserve food. A study at Massachusetts General Hospital was conducted to find out what happens to ramen two hours after it was consumed. A tiny pill camera was ingested which showed instant ramen tended to linger longer in the stomach cavity than homemade ramen due to TBHQ. The dangers of this chemical byproduct have been linked to the weakening of organs and development of cancerous tumors, including stomach tumors.
3. Finding of Benzopyrene in certain brands
In June 2012, the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) found traces of the carcinogen Benzopyrene in six different brands of instant noodles produced by the Nong Shim Company Ltd. Although the KFDA claimed that the benzophyrene levels were not harmful, there were later findings of other batches that had issues and had a recall later in October of 2012.
4. Containment of bisphenol-A (BPA)
The chemical BPA is widely found in the Styrofoam cups that often contain instant noodles. Bisphenol-A (BPA) has been known to be a carcinogen and a hormone disruptor. A hormone disruptor like BPA can cause hormones to develop irregularly and lead to diseases like breast cancer. BPA has also been found to have an effect on the developing brains of infants in the womb. A study conducted in 2011 showed that women who had high levels of BPA in their systems and were pregnant were more likely to have daughters who exhibited signs of anxiety, hyperactivity, and depression as early as three years of age. Children are thought to be affected the most because their brains and bodies are still developing. BPA has also been shown to lead to other chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and certain forms of cancers.
While instant ramen noodles may be a quick and easy meal option, there are several reasons why they may not be safe for regular consumption. A diet high in sodium, unhealthy fats, and glycemic loads can lead to metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of chronic illness. Furthermore, the use of TBHQ and the presence of benzopyrene in certain brands can lead to organ damage and cancer. Finally, the presence of BPA in Styrofoam cups poses a risk to the development of fetuses and young children, leading to irregular hormone development, behavioral issues, and the potential for long-term chronic illness. In conclusion, those who consume instant ramen noodles should do so in moderation and strive to incorporate healthier options into their diet.