Instant noodles are a convenient way to sneak in a quick meal, but they could be harming our health. Read about the study and try these healthier alternatives.
A study published in August’s issue of The Journal of Nutrition found that South Koreans who frequently ate instant noodles were more likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke. Andrea Bertoli at Vibrant Wellness Journal reports, “The doctors conducting the study used information from national health and nutrition surveys conducted between 2007 and 2009 and reviewed data on over 10,000 South Korean adults aged 19 to 64. Their discovery is pretty shocking: people that ate any type of instant noodles more than twice a week tended to suffer from a condition called metabolic syndrome, regardless of their other lifestyle habits like diet and exercise!”
Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of conditions that increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. So, what does that have to do with instant noodles?
Researchers took the survey data and broke down eating styles into two, broad dietary patterns: “traditional” and “meat and fast food.” They labeled the groups TP and MP. Instant noodles tended to be part of the MP group’s diet, but not exclusively. You might think that maybe these health problems were less about the instant noodles and more about the other foods that the MP folks were eating, but the study authors explain, “neither of the dietary patterns [TP or MP] was associated with prevalence of metabolic syndrome. The consumption of instant noodles ≥2 times/wk was associated with a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome.”
Andrea explains, “The study also found that ramen noodles are particularly unhealthy because they contain a food additive called Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), a preservative that is a petroleum industry byproduct. Finally, the containers that hold the beloved cup o’ noodle contain the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) in the styrofoam. BPA is a probable carcinogen and is considered a hormone disruptor, negatively affecting natural hormones in our bodies such as estrogen.”
There’s been some backlash against this study in South Korea, where instant noodles are part of the food culture for a lot of folks. I’d love to hear from instant noodle fans! Does this study make you want to change your habits? Or do you agree with other scientists who say that the evidence is inconclusive?
Beyond Instant Noodles: Make-Ahead Recipes
Whether you think there’s enough evidence linking instant noodles to metabolic syndrome or not, it’s hard to argue that those disposable cups are full of healthy food. Cup Noodles are high in salt, and all of those empty styrofoam cups pile up in our landfills. The good news is, you don’t have to give up noodles entirely. What if you cooked up a big batch of plain noodles on the weekend, so you could dish up lunches and late night snacks whenever you want? Here are some of our favorite make-ahead noodle recipes.
No-Chicken Noodle Soup. Make a big batch of this on a weekend, and you can have noodle soup all week long.
Soba Noodle Soup. Soba noodles cook up relatively quickly, and this soup is much healthier than instant noodles.
Curry Noodle Soup. Warm curry spices give this simple soup deliciously complex flavors.