Instant noodles has been comfort food, a travel favourite and a forbidden pleasure till quite recently.

Instant noodles has been comfort food, a travel favourite and a forbidden pleasure till quite recently. Although all seems well for the moment, a new study by Harvard and Baylor University claims that instant noodles can lead to severe health issues in the long term. 

The researchers analysed the health and diet of 11,000 South Koreans between ages 19 and 64. Their study brought to light that South Korean women were at high risk of metabolic syndrome due to the large amounts of ramen they consume. Curiously, the result was not found on male participants, which the scientists attribute to biological differences between the genders.

Metabolic syndrome often lead to increased blood sugar and blood pressure levels, causing a higher risk of diabetes, stroke or heart disease.

While India has faced a recent crisis with high levels of Mono Sodium Glutamate (MSG) followed by lead contamination, the new culprit discovered in the fresh study is Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), a petroleum industry byproduct used to preserve cheap processed foods. 
“Although instant noodle is a convenient and delicious food, there could be an increased risk for metabolic syndrome given (the food’s) high sodium, unhealthy saturated fat and glycemic loads,” Hyun Shin, Harvard School of Public Health doctoral candidate and co-author of the study, has said.
An article in The Washington Post claims: “Instant noodles are high in fat, high in salt, high in calories, and they’re processed — all those factors could contribute to some of the health problems [the researchers] addressed,” said New York University professor Lisa Young who was not involved in the study. “That doesn’t mean that every single person is going to respond the same way, but the piece to keep in mind is that it’s not a healthy product, and it is a processed food.”
The study of the consumption and health effects of various instant noodles is an international effect. Apart from India, which recently led to one of the largest recall of food product in history after Maggi's lead contamination, studies are also being conducted in other parts of the world - like the latest Korean reseach.  
In South Korea, the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) found a cancer-causing substance known as Benzopyrene in six brands of noodles made by Nong Shim back in 2012. The discovery led to a massive recall of the products both local and abroad.

Maggi in India
According to the World Instant Noodles Association (WINA), 52 countries consumed 97.7 billion servings last year alone. Among its highest consumers are China and Hong Kong, which together consumed 40.43 billion servings, followed by Indonesia, with 13.20 billion servings consumed. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. is not too far behind with 4 billion instant noodles consumed in 2015.


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