The appeal of instant noodles lies in the name. Instant – meaning no-stress, hassle-free food. No time to prepare yourself lunch? Just take some instant noodles along to the workplace, add some water, heat them up, and voila! Lunch is served. Plus, they’re cheap, so if you’re a broke college student, they’re a great instant option for you. Except instant noodles might actually be killing you. They have a ton of deadly ingredients that are pretty bad for the body. Read on to find out more about how they’re harmful for you and your loved ones.
THEY’RE PACKED WITH PRESERVATIVES
You know how you don’t have to refrigerate instant noodles or anything because of their long shelf life? Well, that shelf life is a result of instant noodles being packed with preservatives like tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), a petroleum byproduct that make the noodles stay fresh. Even though TBHQ is only part of the ingredient used for this, the more you eat this product, the more your intake increases.
METABOLIC SYNDROME RISK
Eating instant noodles two or more times a week can cause a higher risk of metabolic syndrome in women. This is associated with abnormal cholesterol, high blood pressure, excess abdominal fat, and high blood sugar, and so increases the risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
CONTAINS HIGH AMOUNTS OF SODIUM
Never ignore what instant noodles can do to your body. Those high amounts of sodium are part of what makes noodles so tasty, but in those proportions, they can lead to kidney damage, heart disease, and other debilitating cases of crippling illnesses.
LACKS SUBSTANTIVE NUTRIENTS
Instant noodles don’t have any important nutrients like proteins, vitamins or minerals. In fact, they absorb nutrients during digestion, so that any healthier foods you’ve consumed will also lose their efficacy. This makes instant noodles especially bad for children under five years of age.
MAKES EXERCISE LESS EFFECTIVE TOO
Even if you leave an active and fit lifestyle, constant consumption of instant noodls will actively undermine this. If you eat instant noodles more than two to three times a week, it will prove counterintuitive to your attempt to lead a healthier lifestyle.
HIGHER CHANCE OF MISCARRIAGE
If you’re pregnant, don’t consume instant noodles at all. These ingredients can harm the developing fetus, leading to a higher risk of miscarriage. Instead, eat wholesome meals such as kale salad with dried fruit and ratatouille with baked eggs.
INSTANT NOODLES ARE NOTHING BUT CARBS
Instant noodles have no nutritional value. Apart from sodium, the only nutrient they have in high quantities is carbohydrates, since the product is made from refined and bleached wheat flour. This makes them a highly processed staple that does nothing to help the body except fill it up.
THEY CONTRIBUTE TO OBESITY
Instant noodles are packed with sugar, salt, syrup, edible vegetable oil, and flavoring. These ingredients are common in other junk foods that lead to weight gain and obesity. For those who are conscious about their size, instant noodles will only serve to make you bigger.
THE BISPHENOL A (BPA) IN THE CONTAINERS IS TOXIC
The styrofoam containers which the noodles come in are made from Bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic synthetic that has been found to have health effects like prostate and breast cancer, developmental problems and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
IT CAN CONTRIBUTE TO HAIR LOSS
It is not clear what exact chemical in instant noodles is the culprit but hair loss is also thought to be a consequence of eating instant noodles a lot. A study on Japanese men links consumption of the noodles with baldness.
IT CONTAINS MSG
Monosodium Glutamate has been sold as a flavour enhancer. It can be found in just about everything like crackers, Chinese food, salad dressings, and canned soups. Many people are actually allergic to MSG with symptoms varying from headaches, flushing face, and indigestion. Research suggests it may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
IT CAN CAUSE BLOATING
Bloating is a common side effect from eating too much instant noodles during the week. It is when the stomach protrudes more than what it normally does, not helping with your body image at all. This might be one reason why your waist length has suddenly increased.
THE DIGESTION OF INSTANT NOODLES VS. HOMEMADE NOODLES
A tiny camera closely followed the instant noodles during digestion in the stomach. Within two hours, the homemade noodles are broken down in the digestive system. That is when they start to show their harmful effects to your body.
THE REASON INSTANT NOODLES HAVE SUCH A CONSISTENT SHAPE AND COLOR
Food should readily break down by our digestive enzyme. But the shape and color of all instant noodles is more or less the same, which means our digestive tract has to work harder to break the noodles down. Researchers believe this is due in part to the presence of TBHQ.
IT CONTAINS PROPYLENE GLYCOL
Propylene glycol is a synthetic compound usually found in shampoos and conditioners. It also happens to be found in instant noodles. The body absorbs propylene glycol when digested, weakening the immune system and damaging the liver, kidneys, and heart in the process.
The Scenario: It’s the end of the month. Your days of ordering poké bowls are long gone. You roll around on the mattress in your kost, wondering what to have for dinner. You don’t feel like buying Indonesian food at the warteg, but you’re also broke as fuck.
You rummage through the cabinet of the small kitchen you share with your kost-mates. To your delight, it’s filled with tiny plastic bricks of instant noodles. You take one, start boiling the water, and dump the seasoning packets into a bowl. You cook the noodles. Ten minutes later, you’re done. Turns out you didn’t need to buy anything for dinner after all.
The scenario repeats itself the rest of the week. But for how long? After all, you’ve heard all kinds of horror stories about instant noodles—that they make you stupid, they cause appendicitis, or even worse: cancer. Is any of it true?
The Facts: There’s one main reason that people think instant noodles are so bad for your health: ingredient number E621, otherwise known as monosodium glutamate (MSG)—the main “flavor enhancer” of all processed food in Asia. But others also believe that the noodles themselves are dangerous because of an alleged wax coating that can damage your digestive tract.
So is MSG bad for your health? Not at all. The US Food and Drug Administration said that MSG was safe for consumption—and this is in a country that is so afraid of MSG that Chinese takeouts routinely advertise “NO MSG” on their menus. In the 1960s, when Chinese food was first spreading across the United States, diners started to complain that all the MSG was causing numbness and headaches. The press quickly dubbed the phenomenon “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” but, in reality, there was no such thing.
And MSG itself isn’t always an additive. It’s naturally found in cheese and tomatoes. MSG is a chemical in the same way that water and oxygens are chemicals, according to an expert quoted by the Guardian. Today, MSG is often used as a “supersalt”—an additive that gives food umami instead of just saltiness.
So where did the cancer myth come from in the first place? I called up Della Rachmadia Annur, a nutritionist at the Prawijaya Women and Children’s Hospital, to try to figure out why people think instant noodles cause cancer.
“Instant noodles can trigger cancer cells to be active, but so does all processed food—stuff like corned beef and chicken nuggets,” Della told me. “Both the noodles and the packets of flavoring contain preservatives, which means that they contain a large amount of sodium. Instant noodles can be dangerous for people who already have diabetes or high blood pressure, but it definitely does not directly cause cancer, especially on its own.”
The same thing can be said about the “wax coating.” Instant noodle companies say they don’t coat their noodles with wax and numerous nutritionists agree, although even if they did, it wouldn’t really cause a problem. Plenty of fruits and vegetables contain wax on their skin too and no one argues that apples give you cancer.
The worst that will happen: Well, instant noodles might not give you cancer, but that doesn’t mean they’re healthy either. One study found that the regular consumption of instant noodles can cause high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body far, and abnormally high levels of cholesterol. The same is true for all foods that are high in sodium and saturated fats