Are you a fan of instant noodles? If yes, you should know these 5 side effects of instant noodles. While they may get prepared quickly, they can harm your health in many ways!

Instant noodles are very popular, thanks to their savoury taste and quick preparation. However, despite their widespread love, instant noodles are not aligned with a healthy diet. They are high in sodium, preservatives, and other chemicals, making them one of the unhealthiest food choices. In fact, regular consumption of instant noodles can lead to several health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome. While they may take less time to prepare, it is essential to be mindful of their nutritional drawbacks and limit their intake for better overall health.

What are the side effects of instant noodles?

They are one of the most convenient foods that can be prepared easily and quickly. However, they are not considered healthy. Here are 5 side effects of eating instant noodles:

1. Low nutrient profile

Instant noodles are notorious for their poor nutritional content. They hardly offer any essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein, and fibre. Instead, they provide a high number of calories, primarily from refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats, which can be problematic for weight management. If you are consuming instant noodles regularly, they can increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies.

2. Contains monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a common additive in these noodles, used to enhance flavour. While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognises MSG as generally safe, there is an ongoing debate about its potential side effects. A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that high MSG consumption is associated with weight gain, headaches, nausea, and even high blood pressure. However, some other studies found no link between weight and moderate consumption of MSG.

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Instant noodles contains harmful chemicals. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. High in sodium

One of the most alarming side effects is their high sodium content. A single serving can contain over half of the recommended daily intake of sodium. According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, excessive sodium intake is linked to organ damage and may cause a range of health issues, including hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, and stroke. “For people with existing heart conditions or those prone to high blood pressure, consuming instant noodles regularly can exacerbate these conditions and lead to severe cardiovascular complications,” explains Nutritionist Saloni Arora.

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4. Made of white flour (maida)

Instant noodles are primarily made from maida, a type of highly processed white flour. Maida is low in dietary fibre and essential nutrients compared to whole grains. Arora says, “Consuming large amounts of maida can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels, making it particularly detrimental for people with diabetes or insulin resistance.” Moreover, diets high in refined carbohydrates are associated with an increased risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.

5. Potential health risks

Beyond the immediate nutritional concerns, regular consumption of instant noodles poses potential long-term health risks. A study published by Nutrition Research and Practice has suggested that frequent consumption of instant noodles may be linked to metabolic syndrome, a condition that increases the risk of high blood pressure, high blood sugar (diabetes), excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Another study published by the Journal of Korean Medical Science found that regular consumption of instant noodles is associated with a low level of vitamin D in the body. However, low vitamin D levels are also linked to insufficient exposure to sunlight and a poor diet.

6. Loaded with bad fats

Instant noodles are often fried in palm oil or other unhealthy oils during their manufacturing process. This results in a product high in saturated fats and trans fats, both of which are known to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while lowering HDL (good) cholesterol. “A diet high in these fats can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition characterised by the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke,” says Arora.

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Instant noodles may increase the risk of many health problems. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Additionally, excessive intake of saturated and trans fats is linked to obesity, liver disease, and other chronic health conditions.

7. Packed with harmful preservatives

To extend shelf life and maintain flavour, instant noodles are packed with preservatives such as Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). While these chemicals are safe in small amounts, long-term consumption can be harmful. A study published by the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences linked chronic exposure to TBHQ with neurological damage, increased risk of lymphoma, and liver enlargement.

How to make instant noodles healthy?

Now you know how regular consumption of instant noodles can be harmful to your health and its side effects. However, if you are an occasional instant noodle fan, fear not! You can make it healthy with these tips:

1. Add vegetables

Add fresh or frozen vegetables like broccoli, carrots, or peppers. These veggies are packed with essential nutrients such as fibre, vitamins, and minerals, which can help make your instant noodles healthy!

2. Include more protein

Apart from vegetables, you can also add a cooked egg, shredded chicken, or tofu to increase protein content. This will help fulfill your daily protein intake and make you feel fuller for longer.

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There is a right way to eat instant noodles! Image courtesy: Adobe Stcok

3. Healthy fats

Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, help the body absorb several nutrients, such as vitamins A, D, and E. Add healthy fats, such as avocado slices or a drizzle of sesame oil, to boost nutrient intake and promote satiety.

4. Use less seasoning

You should avoid or reduce the use of seasoning packets provided with instant noodles, as they may contain high sodium and MSG. Instead, you may use fresh herbs like cilantro or a sprinkle of chili flakes to add flavour and some antioxidants.

5. Control portion size

It is easy to overdo it with instant noodles. But try to stick to a single serving and avoid finishing the seasoning packet if it is too high in sodium. You can also choose whole grain or brown rice options to increase fibre and nutrient content.

Keep these tips in mind when preparing instant noodles and make it healthy for you!

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