Instant noodles have long been a popular meal option, loved for their convenience and low cost. But a new study suggests they may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. And the study has sparked renewed interest in an eye-opening video that shows how our stomachs handle processed foods.
According to a study, published last week in The Journal of Nutrition, consumption of instant noodles two or more times a week was associated with a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome in women but not in men. Metabolic syndrome is set of conditions – including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat and abnormal cholesterol — which combined increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
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The study says a chemical called bisphenol A (BPA) is commonly found in styrofoam containers used to hold some brands of instant noodles. Studies have shown that BPA can interfere with the body’s hormones, particularly the female sex hormone estrogen, said the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Hyun Joon Shin.
“This research is significant since many people are consuming instant noodles without knowing possible health risks,” he said in the statement. “My hope is that this study can lay a foundation for future research about the health effects of instant noodle consumption.”
This isn’t the first time the ingredients found in instant noodles have come under scrutiny.
A stomach-churning 2011 video showed for the first time how our bodies differently digest instant noodles compared to homemade noodles.
Using tiny cameras that can be ingested, participants in a small trial ate processed instant noodles and homemade noodles. They then swallowed the camera, which transmitted video footage from inside their gastrointestinal tract.
Video footage from inside the digestive tract showed stark differences.
The digestive tracts are seen contracting and convulsing to break down the noodles. More than two hours after consumption, the instant noodles aren’t broken down, and their shape and colour are still largely recognizable. By comparison, the homemade noodles are nearly completely broken down.
In the video, the ingredient tertiary-Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is named as a possible culprit. TBHQ is an antioxidant derived from petroleum that is commonly used as a preservative.