According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, women who eat ramen noodles multiple times a week are more likely to have metabolic syndrome – including risk factors such as obesity and high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. Unfortunately, these factors can increase the chances of developing heart disease and diabetes.
Researchers examined a group of 10,711 adults in South Korea, with ages ranging from 19 to 64. The study sorted them into two groups – those who consumed more traditional diets (fish, rice, vegetables) and those who ate a lot of meat and processed foods, such as instant noodles. Researchers established a connection between women who ate instant noodles at least twice a week and metabolic syndrome. Interestingly, it was the women (and not the men) who showed a 68% higher risk of metabolic syndrome from consuming diets high in instant noodles.
Most people also know that the high sodium in ramen noodles isn’t super healthy, but it looks like the noodles themselves have problematic health implications as well.
A study by Dr. Braden Kuo, director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s gastrointestinal motility lab at Harvard, found that instant noodles don’t digest particularly well. Kuo used a tiny camera to take tiny images observing how ramen noodles break down in the stomach. Unfortunately for college students everywhere, Kuo observed that the preservatives used in instant noodles make them difficult for the body to digest. Apparently, it’s the preservative referred to as “TBHQ” – an ingredient in many processed foods – that’s hard for the stomach to break down. TBHQ is used to make oily and fatty foods last longer on shelves and is often applied to food or its packaging to keep the product from losing its colors, flavors, or odors. (Yuck!)
According to Dr. Frank B. Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard, the good news is it won’t kill you to eat some ramen once or twice a month. But if you’re consuming multiple bowls of instant noodles a week… you may want to start cutting back.