Instant noodles or more commonly known as ramen is a popular food not only in the United States but also in many countries around the world. Instant noodles have long been a popular meal option, loved for their convenience and low cost. The recent Maggi noodles controversy in India has not only made the instant noodles go off the shelf in most homes, but has put other brands under the scanner too. A few loyal fans still continue to enjoy their steaming Cup O’ Noodles, but the majority of people are beginning to get cautious.
According to the Codex Standards (FAO standards) for instant noodles, acid regulators, flavour enhancers, thickeners, humectants, colours, stabilizers, anti-oxidants, emulsifiers, flour treatment agents, preservatives and anti-caking agents are allowed to use in the making of instant noodles.
24 of the 136 listed additives in the Codex Standards are sodium salts. And the use of sodium additives is the main reason why instant noodles are high in sodium. High-sodium foods can cause hypertension, heart disease, stroke, kidney damage and other health problems. (i)
Last year, The Washington Post had reported of a South Korean study conducted on the effects of instant noodles on human health. “Women who ate instant noodles twice a week or more had a higher risk of metabolic syndrome than those who ate less, or not at all, regardless of whether their diet style fell into the traditional or fast-food category, ” as published in The Washington Post. (ii)
Instant noodles are considered unhealthy or junk food mainly due to the following reasons:
High in sodium
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that individuals consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, and that certain groups limit intake to 1,500 milligrams per day.
An increased long term intake of sodium is related to Hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease and sometimes even kidney failure.
High in fat
Instant noodles are high in fat and especially saturated fat. For a 2,000 calorie diet, it is recommended no more than 20 grams of saturated fat and 65 grams of fat be consumed per day.
Contain cancer-causing substances
Instant noodles are packed with preservatives, anti-freeze and other ingredients that may cause cancer. Additionally, they are also packaged in cups which contain plasticizers and dioxin which are cancer-causing substances that may leach to the noodles once they are poured with hot water to cook the noodles. (iii)
All the above mentioned studies and reports are indicative and suggestive of the fact that too much of something is obviously bad. And not only in case of instant noodles, but for all types of processed foods too.