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By Dr. Mercola

Instant noodles are a popular go-to lunch or dinner for those who are strapped for time (or cash), like
college students. While you probably dont consider them a health food, you may think theyre
not that bad, or, at least, not as bad as eating a burger and fries or a fast-food burrito.
In a first-of-its-kind experiment, however, Dr. Braden Kuo of Massachusetts General Hospital may make
you reconsider your love of instant noodles (assuming you have one).
He used a pill-sized camera to see what happens inside your stomach and digestive tract after you eat
ramen noodles, one common type of instant noodles. The results were astonishing
Ramen Noodles Dont Break Down After Hours of Digestion
In the video above, you can see ramen noodles inside a stomach. Even after two hours, they are
remarkably intact, much more so than the homemade ramen noodles, which were used as a
comparison. This is concerning for a number of reasons.
For starters, it could be putting a strain on your digestive system, which is forced to work for hours to
break down this highly processed food (ironically, most processed food is so devoid of fiber that it gets
broken down very quickly, interfering with your blood sugar levels and insulin release).
When food remains in your digestive tract for such a long time, it will also impact nutrient absorption,
but, in the case of processed ramen noodles, there isnt much nutrition to be had. Instead, there is a
long list of additives, including the toxic preservative tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ).
This additive will likely remain in your stomach along with the seemingly invincible noodles, and no one
knows what this extended exposure time may do to your health. Common sense suggests its not going
to be good
Five Grams of Noodle Preservative, TBHQ, Is Lethal
TBHQ, a byproduct of the petroleum industry, is often listed as an "antioxidant," but it's important to
realize it is a synthetic chemical with antioxidant properties not a natural antioxidant. The chemical
prevents oxidation of fats and oils, thereby extending the shelf life of processed foods.
It's a commonly used ingredient in processed foods of all kinds (including McDonalds chicken nuggets,
Kelloggs CHEEZ-IT crackers, Reeses peanut butter cups, Wheat Thins crackers, Teddy Grahams, Red
Baron frozen pizza, Taco Bell beans, and much more).
But you can also find it in varnishes, lacquers, and pesticide products, as well as cosmetics and
At its 19th and 21st meetings, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives determined that
TBHQ was safe for human consumption at levels of 0-0.5 mg/kg of body weight.1
However, the Codex commission set the maximum allowable limits up to between 100 to as much as
400 mg/kg, depending on the food it's added to.2(Chewing gum is permitted to contain the highest levels
of TBHQ.) In the US, the Food and Drug Administration requires that TBHQ must not exceed 0.02
percent of its oil and fat content.3
So theres quite a discrepancy in supposedly "safe" limits, but its probably best to have little
or no exposure to this toxicant, as exposure to five grams can be lethal and, according to A Consumer's
Dictionary of Food Additives, exposure to just one gram of TBHQ can cause:4

Nausea and vomiting

Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Sense of suffocation

While TBHQ is not suspected to be a persistent toxicant, meaning your body is probably able to
eliminate it so that it does not bioaccumulate, if you eat instant noodles your body might be getting
prolonged exposures. This is concerning, to say the least. According to the Environmental Working
Group (EWG), based on animal studies health hazards associated with TBHQ include:5

Liver effects at very low doses

Positive mutation results from in vitro tests on mammalian cells

Biochemical changes at very low doses

Reproductive effects at high doses

Eating Instant Noodles Linked to Metabolic Syndrome

If youre still considering ramen noodles for lunch, you should know a new study published in
the Journal of Nutrition found that women who consumed more instant noodles had a significantly
greater risk of metabolic syndrome than those who ate less, regardless of their overall diet or exercise
Women who ate instant noodles more than twice a week were 68 percent more likely to have metabolic
syndrome -- a group of symptoms such as central obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting
blood sugar, elevated fasting triglycerides, and low levels of HDL cholesterol.
Having three or more of the symptoms increases your risk of developingdiabetes and cardiovascular
disease. Past research also analyzed overall nutrient intake between instant-noodle consumers and
non-consumers, and found, as you might suspect, that eating instant noodles contributes little value to a
healthy diet.
The instant-noodle consumers had a significantly lower intake of important nutrients like protein,
calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, vitamin A, niacin, and vitamin C compared with nonconsumers.7 Those who ate instant noodles also had an excessive intake of energy, unhealthy fats and
sodium (just one package may contain 2,700 milligrams of sodium).8
What Else Is in a Package of Instant Noodles?
Aside from a lot of sodium and the preservative TBHQ, what else is found in a typical serving of instant
noodles? Prevent Disease reported:9
The dried noodle block was originally created by flash frying cooked noodles, and this is still the main
method used in Asian countries, though air-dried noodle blocks are favored in Western countries. The
main ingredients of the dried noodle are wheat flour, palm oil, and salt. Common ingredients of the
flavoring powder are salt, monosodium glutamate, seasoning, and sugar.
In June 2012, the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) found Benzopyrene (a cancer-causing
substance) in six brands of noodles made by Nong Shim Company Ltd. Although the KFDA said the
amounts were minuscule and not harmful, Nong Shim did identify particular batches of noodles with a
problem, prompting a recall by October 2012.
The monosodium glutamate (MSG) in instant noodles is reason enough to avoid them. MSG is an
excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your nerve cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain
dysfunction and damage to varying degrees -- and potentially even triggering or worsening learning
disabilities, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, and more.
Part of the problem is that free glutamic acid (MSG is approximately 78 percent free glutamic acid) is the
same neurotransmitter that your brain, nervous system, eyes, pancreas, and other organs use to initiate
certain processes in your body. Not to mention, MSG is also used to fatten up mice for scientific study.

Yes, MSG is the perfect obesity drug. If you want to achieve your ideal body weight and health, avoid
MSG at all costs.

Return to Whole, Living Foods for Optimal Health

Occasionally eating a package of instant noodles clearly wont kill you, but when you make a habit of
substituting convenience foods for real food, its only a matter of time before health problems will likely
develop. Instant noodles are a prime example of the types of processed foods you want to avoid as
much as possible, as they are virtually guaranteed tomake you sick and fat if you indulge too much (and
too much may be as little as a couple of times a week).
Processed foods encourage weight gain and chronic disease because theyre high in sugar, fructose,
refined carbohydrates, and artificial ingredients, and low in nutrients and fiber. Processed foods are
addictive and designed to make you overeat; they also encourage excessive food cravings, leading to
weight gain. Eating processed foods also promotes insulin resistance and chronic inflammation, which
are hallmarks of most chronic and/or serious diseases. On the other hand, people have thrived on
vegetables, meats, eggs, fruits, and other whole foods for centuries, while processed foods were only
recently invented.
Ditching processed foods requires that you plan your meals in advance, but if you take it step-by-step as
described in mynutrition plan, it's quite possible, and manageable, to painlessly remove processed foods
from your diet. You can try scouting out your local farmer's markets for in-season produce that is priced
to sell, and planning your meals accordingly, but you can also use this same premise with supermarket
sales. You can generally plan a week of meals at a time, making sure you have all ingredients necessary
on hand, and then do any prep work you can ahead of time so that dinner is easy to prepare if you're
short on time (and you can use leftovers for lunches the next day, so you dont have to resort to instant

The Dark Side of Instant Noodles: What Makes Them Harmful?

Sparshita Saxena , NDTV, Modified: June 12, 2015 11:37 IST

The recent Maggi noodles controversy 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.
Instant noodles is a food item that has always been under a lot of speculation. When I was a little girl, I
was allowed to have it only on Sundays. My mother would say, "Isme maida hai, indigestion hoga zyada
khane se," meaning, most instant noodles are made of maida(refined flour) which could cause
indigestion. A common belief was that instant noodles could lead to bowel troubles and obesity.
(Maggi Noodles Found with Excess Lead: Doctors Respond)
I therefore decided to put to rest these speculations and seek expert advice on the same. With the world
gobbling down 102.7 billion instant noodle servings in a year, it's finally time to analyze how much is too
much and whether we require to draw a line on processed food consumption.
According to a report published by the World Instant Noodles Association, India stands fourth in the
global instant noodles consumption listing at 5.5 billion servings per year. China tops the list at a
staggering 44.4 billion servings consumed annually. Keeping the above statistics in mind as well as the

recent hullabaloo around one of the nation's most loved instant noodles brand, we aim at simplifying and
bringing to light the implications of excessive instant noodles consumption on human body.

(In a Soup Again! The Story Behind MSG)

What makes it so bad?
Since these instant noodles are made to bear a longer shelf life, they are highly processed. They are
low on nutritive content; high on fat, calories and sodium; and are laced with artificial colours,
preservatives, additives and flavourings.
"In most cases monosodium glutamate (MSG) as well as tertiary-butyl hydroquinone(TBHQ) - a
chemical preservative derived from the petroleum industry - may be present in instant noodles for their
taste enhancing and preserving properties. Though dietary intake of these elements is allowed within a
limit, regular intake of these can cause severe health issues," said Dr. Sunil Sharma, general physician
and head of emergency, Madan Mohan Malviya Hopsital, New Delhi.
(South Koreans Stick by Their Noodle Diet Despite Health Worries)
Last year, The Washington Post had reported of a South Korean study conducted on the effects of
instant noodles on human health. According to the study, "Although instant noodles is 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," said Hyun Shin, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard School
of Public Health and a co-author of the study.
"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.
The study concluded that excessive instant noodle consumption can not only trigger obesity but also
metabolic ailments like diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, heart problems and so on.
(Beyond Maggi Noodles: Some of the Most Shocking Food Controversies)

Matter that Matters - Maida

Most instant noodles are made of maida - milled, refined and bleached version of wheat flour. What
makes maida so bad for our health is the fact that it is highly processed - richer in flavour but,
unfortunately, devoid of any nutrition.
According to Dr. Simran Saini, Nutritionist at Fortis Hospital, New Delhi, "Maida-based instant noodles
are loaded with preservatives and are nothing but a source of empty calories ripped of all nutrition.
Excessive consumption may lead to obesity."
"In most cases it has been seen that these maida-based instant noodles take a toll on the digestive
process. Its remnants may reach the appendix area of the body and trigger infection," she added.

The Bad Fats

Unfortunately, most processed foods are loaded with not-so-good fats like saturated fatty acids or transfats. Monounsaturated fatty acids as well polyunsaturated fatty acids are the good-for-you fats. If one

digs deep into food labels and what those terms really stand for, one will realise that edible vegetable oil,
sugar, sugar syrup, flavour enhancer and many other agents like these aren't good for your health at all.
Instant noodles contain saturated fats which if consumed excessively or regularly can raise the level of
cholesterol in the blood. Having high cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease as well as type 2

"How will you ever know what kind of oil has been used? Edible vegetable oil could mean anything;
usually it is nothing but palm oil, which has high content of saturated fats and is detrimental for health.
Processed foods including instant noodles contain high amounts of sodium, food additives, petroleum
by-products (in some cases), bad cholesterol, simple carbs with no nutrition and no fiber whatsoever.
How can you not expect the regular consumption of such items to harm you?" opined Dr. Sharma.
(Finally, Food Labels on Nutrition Facts Will Get a Makeover)
In the year 2013, a group of local American doctors conducted an experiment to see how does our
digestive process functions when we eat instant noodles. With the help of a micro, pill-sized camera the
doctors were able to see the noodle churning process on their computer screen.

Interestingly, it was seen that the stomach took close to a couple of hours to digest and completely
breakdown the noodle strains as opposed to freshly made noodles. The experts explained that the
processed nature of these noodles usually make them hard to digest.
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
(The Instant Noodles Challenge: How Much Can You Chow Down?)
"One of the biggest problems these days is the fact that people have started replacing real food with fast
food," noted Dr. Sharma. That is indeed true as I remember several times when late at night or on a lazy
Sunday morning I would get up and quickly cook instant noodles just to tame that gnawing hunger.
According to Dr. Sharma, fast food and processed items should be consumed occasionally and should
never replace actual meals. One should always remember that over-indulgence does no one any good.