If youâ€™re a college student, a busy parent, or find yourself working a night shift, then a packet of instant ramen noodles might just mean the difference between eating and going hungry.
Instant noodles are quick, easy, and pretty tasty to boot. But could they be doing your body more harm than good? Dr Braden Kuo suspected so.
The doctor conducted a voyeuristic foray into the bellies of a group of volunteers to find out how their bodies really coped with instant noodles. â€œPeople just have this macabre interest in terms of whatâ€™s going on in their bodies,â€ Dr Kuo said.
So the doctor brought the inner workings of our bodies to the small screen in a fascinating viral video that might just put you off your noodle dinner. But whatâ€™s all the fuss about instant noodles anyway? Itâ€™s just a simple snack food, right? The plot thickens as soon as we take a closer look at the ingredients.
According to research, instant ramen noodles typically contain the following seven ingredients:
1. Propylene glycol, which, frighteningly, is also used in tobacco products and antifreeze.
2. Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), which preserves the wheat, flour, salt, and vegetable oil in the noodles. However, TBHQ is also found in perfumes, resins, lacquers, and biodiesel.
3. Monosodium glutamate (MSG). We expect youâ€™ve heard of this one. Itâ€™s highly addictive, and in larger quantities can cause nausea, headaches, flushing, sweating, and heart palpitations.
4. Sodium, or â€œsalt,â€ for us laypeople. One packet of instant ramen noodles contains an average of 1,875 milligrams of sodium; we are only supposed to ingest 1,500 milligrams daily.
5. Vegetable oil. Canola or cottonseed oils are okay, but if palm oil is used, watch out. Palm oil is very high in saturated fat.
6. BPA, an â€œendocrine disruptor,â€ is present if your noodles come in a polystyrene cup. BPA can leach into your noodles during the cooking process, and, when ingested, can affect your natural hormone balance.
7. Corn syrup, a preservative. Essentially a sweetener; essentially like dunking a teaspoon of sugar into your noodle pot.
If that jolly list hasnâ€™t already put you off, Dr Kuoâ€™s experiment sheds even more light on the one question remaining: are instant noodles really bad for your health or not?
The doctorâ€™s volunteers swallowed â€œsmart-pillâ€ cameras and then tucked into a noodle dinner to find out. Day one, instant ramen; day two, fresh, homemade ramen.
The cameras recorded 32 hours of footage, and Dr Kuo discovered that instant ramen noodles donâ€™t digest half as easily as their freshly prepared equivalents.
Footage showed one participantâ€™s stomach contracting repeatedly as it attempted to grind up the instant noodles. â€œThe most striking thing about our experiment, in one or two hours, we noticed processed ramen noodles were less broken down than homemade ramen noodles.â€Â recalled Dr Kuo.
Dr Kuoâ€™s study was too small to draw credible generalized conclusions, but after witnessing the doctorâ€™s fascinating footage, many consumers have become more critical of their noodle-eating habits.
In the meantime, Dr Kuo said that he planned to conduct further research into slower digestion and nutrient absorption; the world waits with bated breath. Choose a low-sodium option to keep your salt intake on the right side of â€œtoo much,â€ and finally, ditch the MSG-heavy flavour packet and make your own broth! Are you up for the challenge?
The bottom line, Healthline states, is â€œthough instant ramen noodles provide iron, B vitamins, and manganese, they lack fibre, protein, and other crucial vitamins and minerals.â€ So why not flex your cooking muscles at the same time as enjoying a tasty snack?
Your gastrointestinal tract will thank you for it.
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