Instant noodles – otherwise known as the best thing since sliced bread. For foodaholics like me out there, making these things takes less than a minute or two, making it easy for full time parents and workers to make something quick and tasty. Although, can we really substitute our health for something that cures our cravings?

What many people don’t realize is that these cheap noodles that we slurp on, on a day-to-day basis at the office, in the comfort of our own home or even shared with our children, are actually dangerous to our health.

Countries like China, Indonesia and Japan are the highest consumers of instant noodles in the world, according to a 2015 estimation published by the World Instant Noodle Association. One of the main attractions of instant noodles by far is the cheap price and the low amount of calories found in products such as Pot Noodle which only amounts to 142 calories per 100g.

There is also the common myth that adding vegetables to your instant noodles enhances their nutritional value, however like many foods, veggies and fruits do not counter the negative effects of any unhealthy food product.

So, if you’re ready to hear what instant noodles can actually do to your health, here are a list of problems they can cause:

1. They don’t digest quick enough, and are even linked to cancer

Instant noodles put a strain on your digestive system, forcing it to break down the highly processed noodles for hours. It can also interfere with your blood sugar levels and insulin release if digested too quickly. As the foods are kept in the body for so long as a result of slow digestion, toxic chemicals and preservatives are retained in the body, often leading to an over-exposure of Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and t-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ).

Whilst TBHQ and BHA are used in products to keep them usable for longer (and mean we can keep them stocked up in our shelves for months at a time), both chemicals are in fact carcinogenic. This meaning that they can cause cancer, and can even lead to asthma, anxiety and diarrhea if consumed/we are exposed to them over a long period of time.

2. There is an increased risk of heart disease

If you’re on a budget and instant noodles are your favorite snack or treat to consume a few times a week, then you may want to pay attention this fact. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, it was found that women who consumed more instant noodles had a significantly greater risk of metabolic syndrome than those who ate less regardless of overall diet or exercise habits, with those who ate instant noodles more than twice a week being 68% more likely to have metabolic syndrome.

Now for those who aren’t sure on what metabolic syndrome is, it is a group of symptoms such as central obesity, elevated blood pressure, low levels of HDL cholesterol which increases someone’s chances of contracting heart disease, diabetes or having a stroke.

So why does this occur? Mainly because deep-frying is a step in the production of most instant noodles that we consume. As we know, deep-fried anything is bad for us, however with the lack of nutritional value and high saturated fats in the product already, the overall production process of these products doesn’t help.

3. They are high in salt

I’m sure we are all aware by now how too much salt can really affect our overall health, but not many are aware of the actual damage it can cause to our bodies. Instant noodles are rich in salt. In a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension in 2014, high dietary sodium consumption was recognized as a major factor in high death rates in 23 case studies. This excess sodium can also lead to high blood pressure, and in turn heart disease (which is already a re-occurring health problem linked to every product found in these instant noodles).

4. Some contain Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Monosodium Glutamate is commonly referred to as MSG’s which are usually found in takeaways, and is a flavor enhancer popular in Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisines. According to the FDA, MSG is labelled as a safe additive, with harmful effects still debatable, however health and nutrition data collected from the China Health and Nutrition Survey suggests otherwise, with high MSG consumption over a prolonged amount of time leading to an excess weight gain in individuals.

MSG is sometimes referred to as the ‘obesity’ drug, so if you’re thinking about consuming instant noodles as part of your ‘new year, new you’ diet plan, they might be an item you want to miss off your shopping list…

So, what healthier, alternative options are there?

If you love your noodles a bit too much to completely cut them out your diet, then we have found three alternative, healthier recipes that are sure to cure your cravings.

  • For you workaholics out there who have little time to spare to prepare food, why not try out these homemade ramen noodles, that can be found here. Quick and easy, taking less than 30 minutes to cook and prepare!
  • Perhaps you want to be more adventurous and try something new? Chicken Yakisoba is a Japanese favorite and is both flavorsome and wholesome. If you’re a carnivore at heart, find these meaty recipe here.
  • Or try out a cleansing and refreshing ramen soup, perfect for those gluten-free and vegan individuals out there. Find this delicious recipe here.

Featured photo credit: Christina Kadluba via flickr.com

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