A staggering 103.6 billion servings of instant noodles were eaten in 2018 alone, according to figures shared by the World Instant Noodles Association. That amounts to 280 million servings consumed every day! If you’re among the legions of people who regularly indulge in instant noodles, there may be something you don’t know: There are many health risks associated with eating this popular food. Here’s a closer look at the research.
Instant Noodles and Heart Health
There is a growing body of evidence pointing to the harmful effects of instant noodles on heart health. One particularly troubling example? A 2014 study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that women who regularly eat instant noodles are more likely to have metabolic syndrome, described as “the group of risk factors, including obesity and high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, that increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.” Specifically, the research found that women who ate instant noodles at least twice a week were 68 percent more likely to develop the life-threatening condition.
Said Harvard School of Public Health (HSPS) doctoral candidate Hun Shin, who co-authored the study, “Although instant noodles are 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.”
Think you're exempt because you’re young or male? Think again. A 2017 study published in the academic journal, Nutrition Research and Practice, established a link between eating instant noodles and cardiometabolic risk factors among both male and female college students in Seoul.
Instant Noodles and MSG
Another issue with instant noodles? Most products contain the common food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG). While MSG is one of the reasons instant noodles are so flavorful, plenty of research suggests that consuming it can lead to a number of health consequences.
For example, one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ties MSG with weight gain, while another published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine revealed that the popular flavor enhancer can have an “injurious effect on brain neurons” causing everything from dizziness to headaches.
Instant Noodles and Your Digestive Tract
According to Keck Medicine of USC, meanwhile, instant noodles also wreak havoc on your digestive system because your stomach can’t break down the preservative ingredient Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ). As if the stress on your stomach isn’t enough reason to reduce your instant noodle consumption, did we happen to mention that this petroleum-based product is the same one found in lacquers and pesticides?
The takeaway? While eating a cup of instant noodles may not seem like a big deal, doing so can lead to a variety of detrimental health concerns. Reaching for nutritious alternatives instead can help you look and feel better while safeguarding your health and wellness.