Reasons Why You Need to Stop Eating Instant Noodles This Very Instant!

Reasons Why You Need to Stop Eating Instant Noodles This Very Instant!

Reasons Why You Need to Stop Eating Instant Noodles This Very Instant!

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One of the most alarming aspects of instant noodles is their high sodium content. A single serving can contain over half of the recommended daily intake of sodium. 

3 June 2024

By Ishika Kumar

Instant noodles and cup noodles have become a beloved convenience food for many, celebrated for their savoury flavours and rapid preparation time of minutes. However, their health implications are substantially adverse and cannot be ignored. If you’re a fan of instant noodles, it’s crucial to understand the various ways they can adversely affect your health and how to make them a tad healthier.

The Dark Side of Instant Noodles

Despite their widespread popularity, instant noodles are far from being a healthy dietary choice or a fair one for that matter. They are laden with high levels of sodium, preservatives and other unhealthy chemicals. 

Regular consumption of it for a quick fix can lead to significant health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, fatty liver and metabolic syndrome. It’s essential to be aware of these nutritional drawbacks and limit intake for better overall health.

Low Nutrient Profile

Instant noodles are infamous for their poor nutritional content. They provide minimal essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre. Instead, they offer a high number of calories primarily from refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. Regular consumption can also lead to nutrient deficiencies, which compromise your overall health.

Contains Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a common additive in instant noodles, used to enhance their flavour. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes MSG as generally safe, its potential side effects remain a topic of debate. A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that high MSG consumption is associated with weight gain, headaches, nausea and high blood pressure. However, some studies have found no significant link between moderate MSG consumption and adverse health effects.

High in Sodium

One of the most alarming aspects of instant noodles is their high sodium content. A single serving can contain over half of the recommended daily intake of sodium. Excessive sodium intake is linked to organ damage and numerous health issues, including hypertension, heart disease and stroke. For individuals with existing heart conditions or those prone to high blood pressure, regular consumption of instant noodles can aggravate these conditions and lead to severe cardiovascular complications.

Made of White Flour (Maida)

Instant noodles are primarily made from maida, a highly processed white flour. Maida is low in dietary fibre and essential nutrients compared to whole grains. Consuming large amounts of maida can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels, making it particularly detrimental for people with diabetes or insulin resistance. Diets high in refined carbohydrates are also associated with an increased risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Potential Health Risks

Regular consumption of instant noodles poses potential long-term health risks. Research published in Nutrition Research and Practice suggests that frequent consumption may be linked to metabolic syndrome, a condition increasing the risk of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Another study by the Journal of Korean Medical Science found an association between regular instant noodle consumption and low levels of vitamin D, which is also influenced by insufficient sunlight exposure and poor diet.

Loaded with Unhealthy Fats

Instant noodles are often fried in palm oil or other unhealthy oils during manufacturing, resulting in high levels of saturated fats and trans fats. These fats are known to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while lowering HDL (good) cholesterol, contributing to atherosclerosis, a condition characterised by fatty deposits in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Excessive intake of saturated and trans fats is also linked to obesity, liver disease and other chronic health conditions.

Packed with Harmful Preservatives

To extend shelf life and maintain flavour, instant noodles are packed with preservatives such as Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). While these chemicals are considered safe in small amounts, long-term consumption can be harmful. Chronic exposure to TBHQ has been linked to neurological damage, an increased risk of lymphoma and liver enlargement, according to a study published by the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences.

Making Instant Noodles Healthier

While regular consumption of instant noodles is harmful, occasional indulgence can be made healthier with some modifications:

1.    Add Vegetables: Incorporate fresh or frozen vegetables like broccoli, carrots or peppers. These veggies are rich in essential nutrients such as fibre, vitamins and minerals, improving the nutritional profile of your instant noodles.

2.    Include More Protein: Adding a cooked egg, shredded chicken or tofu can increase the protein content, helping you feel fuller for longer and fulfilling your daily protein intake.

3.    Healthy Fats: Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, aid in the absorption of nutrients like vitamins A, D and E. Adding avocado slices or a drizzle of sesame oil can boost nutrient intake and promote satiety.

4.    Use Less Seasoning: Reduce or avoid using the provided seasoning packets, which are high in sodium and MSG. Instead, use fresh herbs like cilantro or a sprinkle of chilli flakes for flavour and antioxidants.

5.    Control Portion Size: Stick to a single serving and avoid finishing the high-sodium seasoning packet. Opt for whole grain or brown rice noodles to increase fibre and nutrient content.

While instant noodles are a convenient and tasty option, their health implications are extremely detrimental. From high sodium levels and unhealthy fats to potential long-term health risks, it’s clear that instant noodles should not be a daily dietary staple. 

By making small adjustments, such as adding vegetables, protein and healthy fats, you can enjoy them occasionally without compromising your health. Awareness and moderation are key to maintaining a balanced diet and overall well-being.