Instant ramen is cheap, tasty, and filling. But it could also cause serious health problems.
New research suggests that instant noodles are linked to major heart problems. Researchers in South Korea — which consumes more instant noodles than any other part of the world — found that women who ate instant noodles twice a week or more were 68 percent more likely to have metabolic syndrome.
The study, published in the August issue of the Journal of Nutrition, looked at 10,711 adults over a two-year period. They classified participants as subscribing to either a "traditional diet" of vegetables, fish, and rice, or a "meat and fast-food" diet that included instant noodles. While the latter diet wasn't linked to health problems on the whole, instant noodles in particular were.
While women who ate instant noodles were at a much higher risk for metabolic syndrome, which includes symptoms like high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and obesity, the research team did not find as great an effect on men who ate instant noodles. The researchers suggest that women, particularly postmenopausal women, may be "more sensitive to the dietary effect of carbohydrates, sodium, and saturated fat," according to The New York Times.
"Once or twice a month is not a problem," Dr. Frank B. Hu, the study's senior author, said in a statement. "But a few times a week really is."