Noodling over ramen is more than a bad fast-food habit — it’s a potential health hazard.
Cheap, quick and easy to make, ramen noodles have been a go-to snack, lunch or dinner ever since Momofuku Ando invented them in 1958. But fast doesn’t mean better — in fact, studies have uncovered several health risks associated with the instant noodles.
1. Ramen increases risk for metabolic syndrome in women.
Women who eat instant noodles two or more times a week are 68% more likely to develop a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, no matter how healthy they eat or how physically active they are. Doctors think that ramen’s processed ingredients, high sodium levels and considerable amount of saturated fats contribute to high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, and an increased risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease.
2. Ramen can lead to weight gain.
One package of ramen noodles contains 14 grams of saturated fat — that’s 40% of your daily intake. Additionally, they are low in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. These instant noodles may fill your stomach, but they pack a whopping amount of calories and offer little nutritional value.
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3. Ramen can damage your liver.
Highly processed foods contain preservatives, artificial sweeteners and flavorings, and additives that stress your liver because they are so hard to break down. If your liver is overwhelmed it stores excess fat in its own cells. Over time, fat builds up and can inflame or damage this vital organ. Irregular liver function also causes water retention and swelling.
4. Ramen can increase your risk of heart failure.
Sodium causes high blood pressure, which may lead to heart failure or stroke. Because ramen noodles contain 1,820 milligrams of sodium, almost two-thirds the daily FDA-recommended consumption, they can significantly increase your combined salt intake for the day without you even realizing. The more you eat, the higher your risk.
5. Ramen stresses your digestive tract.
A video shows that even after two hours, your stomach cannot break down highly processed noodles, interrupting normal digestion. Ramen is preserved with Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), a hard to digest petroleum-based product also found in lacquers and pesticide products. The extended period of time it takes your system to process instant noodles also increases how long your body may be exposed to this chemical and hinders its ability to absorb nutrients from other foods. Eventually, your body will flush it through the digestive system, but if you experience nausea and vomiting, tinnitus, or delirium, it could be attributed to an unsafe exposure to TBHQ.
by Heidi Tyline King
If you’re ready to explore healthier nutritional options, consider meeting with an expert to discuss a personalized plan.
The USC Digestive Health Center has some of the world’s top digestive specialists. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting https://digestive.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/.