Why Instant Noodles May Be Destroying Your Health

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Why Instant Noodles May Be Destroying Your Health
Why Instant Noodles May Be Destroying Your Health. Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com. Photo © Kitsananan Kuna – Adobe Stock (under license).

Instant “ramen” noodles are a massively popular staple – especially in the collegiate population. While genuine ramen noodles made from good quality flour and without additives are not cause for serious concern, the cheap instant noodles are a total additive-fest. People who live on campus and / or are financially struggling often end up surviving on instant noodles several days a week. In Asia, the popularity and convenience of instant noodles are even bigger; it’s a quick, cheap, and easy to way to ease your hunger – but how do instant noodles affect your health?

1. Instant Noodles Are Extremely High In Sodium

Instant noodles are extremely high in sodium – one packet containing 1875mg – more than the entire RDA of 1500mg. Sodium is one of the leading causes of both hypertension (high blood pressure) and kidney dysfunction. How? Sodium causes a build-up of fluid in the body, raising blood pressure which destroys the delicate vessels that supply the kidneys with blood. This is the reason why people with kidney problems are strongly advised to avoid preserved food items and too much salt in their diet. [1]

2. Instant Noodles Are Loaded With MSG

MSG is a specific kind of sodium found in most preserved food items like instant noodles and canned food. MSG intake has been linked to an increased risk for cancer [2] and hypersensitivity reactions like migraines, flushing, and chest pain. [3] While the FDA has officially labeled MSG as generally safe, it remains a highly controversial ingredient. Because of these reports of hypersensitivity and a potential risk for cancer, they require all food items to list MSG as an ingredient if it was used in any way to make the product.

3. Preservatives Affect Nutrition Absorption In The Body

Because instant noodles have extremely high levels of preservatives, they can also affect the way our bodies absorb nutrients. The stomach and intestines are where nutrient absorption takes place and are home to good bacteria that aids in digestion. Preservatives harm these good bacteria, lowering their numbers (and increasing the number of bad bacteria!) and affecting our bodies’ ability to absorb nutrients from food. [4] This can cause problems like nutrient deficiency and long-term absorption problems.

4. Instant Noodles Contain Antifreeze

Yes, they really do. While instant noodles have your typical preservatives like MSG, they also have lesser known ingredients that will have you raising your eyebrow. Propylene glycol – a colorless liquid – is a popular antifreeze because of its ability to absorb water. It also happens to be used to preserve the texture of instant noodles as well, prolonging their shelf life. [5] A 2004 study also linked propylene glycol intake with an increased risk for liver cancer. [6] Check the ingredients carefully.

5. Instant Noodles Have Been Linked With Plasticizer Contamination

Plasticizers are additives that increase the flexibility of non-food items. However, back in 2011 and 2012, Chinese instant noodles (including certain brands that are exported to the US) were found to be contaminated with toxic levels of plasticizers. When this substance is ingested, it damages the digestive tract and increases a person’s risk for gastrointestinal and hepatic cancer. [7]

6. Instant Noodles Often Contain A Cocktail Of Unhealthy Ingredients

Instant noodles and their packet sauces commonly contain canola oil, corn syrup and Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) – a highly controversial preservative that is also added to perfumes, lacquers, and biodiesel! [8]


[1] American Heart Association. Shaking the Salt Habit. https://heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Shaking-the-Salt-Habit_UCM_303241_Article.jsp

[2] HAta, K., et. al. (2012). Monosodium glutamate-induced diabetic mice are susceptible to azoxymethane-induced colon tumorigenesis. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22223845

[3] Zeratsky, K. (2015). What is MSG? Is it bad for you? https://mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/monosodium-glutamate/faq-20058196

[4] Philips, M. (2009). Gut Reaction: Environmental Effects on the Human Microbiota. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2685866/

[5] Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. Propylene Glycol. https://atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=240

[6] Doi, A., et. al. (2004). Inhalation toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of propylene glycol mono-t-butyl ether in rats and mice. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15125995

[7] Want China Times (2012). More plasticizers found in China’s soy sauce, noodles. https://wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20121225000085&cid=1103

[8] https://www.yahoo.com/health/whats-actually-in-instant-ramen-115416194312.html

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