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How Safe Are Your Instant Noodles?
The long and short of the most controversial junk food of recent times
You like it when you are strapped for time; plus it's cheap, filling and delicious. Now, the nation's favourite convenience food—instant noodles—seems to have landed in a soup. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and agencies like the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) have given it the thumbs down. Here's why you don't need that 2-minute fix.
It is loaded with empty calories from refined flour that has a high glycaemic index (GI) and quickly releases sugar into the bloodstream, evoking a sharp insulin response. Excess salt is bad news, too. “The quantity of sodium may lead to an increased risk of hypertension,” says nutritionist Dharini Krishnan, Chennai.
MSG is addictive
MSG is known to evoke Umami, the savoury fifth flavour. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that having excess MSG may lead to weight gain. Naturally occuring MSG in foods like tomatoes and cheese doesn't harm the body. But, "chemically-synthesized MSG lights up the pleasure centres of the brain, is addictive and shouldn't be added to kids' products," explains Delhi-based nutritionist, Neelanjana Singh. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that women who consumed more instant noodles had a greater risk of metabolic syndrome—a cluster of conditions like obesity, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
It could be contaminated
Recently, tests on samples of instant noodles found traces of lead, a heavy metal, in quantities above permissible limits. Lead can get into the soil/water through lead-based paints and industrial affluents, or the products could have been exposed during the processing, say experts. How lead got into instant noodles needs to be investigated.
Be label wise
Besides instant noodles, ready-to-make soups, candy, chewing gum, etc. are potential sources of hidden MSG. It is disguised as 'hydrolyzed vegetable/soya protein' and 'autolyzed yeast' in the list of ingredients. So read labels carefully.
Previously published in Prevention India © July 2015 Living Media India Limited.