Instant noodles are surely cheap and easy to prepare and it have become a favourite food in many countries around the world despite its reputation for being unhealthy.
According to the World Instant Noodles Association (WINA), 52 countries consumed 97.7 billion servings last year alone. Among its highest consumers are China and Hong Kong, which together consumed 40.43 billion servings, followed by Indonesia, with 13.20 billion servings consumed. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. is not too far behind with 4 billion instant noodles consumed in 2015.
A Baylor University and Harvard study published in the Journal of Nutrition revealed that eating instant noodles may increase risks of heart disease and stroke.
The study was based on the health and diet of 11,000 South Korean between ages 19 and 64. The study showed that South Korean women were at high risk of metabolic syndrome due to the large amounts of instant noodles they consume. Curiously, the result was not found on male participants, which the scientists attribute to biological differences between the genders.Metabolic syndrome often lead to increased blood sugar and blood pressure levels, causing a higher risk of diabetes, stroke or heart disease.
The culprit identified was the substance found in ramen called Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), a petroleum industry byproduct used to preserve cheap processed foods.
“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,” said Hyun Shin, Harvard School of Public Health doctoral candidate and co-author of the study.
Separate studies conducted elsewhere have revealed other potential health hazards.
In South Korea, the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) found a cancer-causing substance known as Benzopyrene in six brands of noodles made by Nong Shim back in 2012. The discovery led to a massive recall of the products both local and abroad.