We all grew up with a liking for instant and packed food. We used to beg our mothers to buy a packet of instant food and be wonderfully delighted to open our lunch box in school to find our favourite instant noodle in it. We would sneak a packet of fried chips or a pack of chocolates on our way home. While they gave us fond memories, they might have also given us harmful metabolic and other health issues. How about that?
Remember back in 2015 when certain instant noodles were banned in our country due to the finding of lead in its mix and we all were visibly upset. I was actually for our benefit. Processed and packed food like instant noodles and ready to make mixes have a lot of harmful ingredients in it that could cause metabolic dysfunctioning, to say the least. MSG, Salt, Trans Fat are not just names you throw around, but actual ingredients in your instant food that could cause a great deal of problems.
Let’s look at the top ingredients that you need to be worried about.
The most popular ingredient in the world of fast and instant food is MSG or monosodium glutamate or you may have also heard it as ‘Ajinomoto’. An addictive agent, this white crystalline powder resembles table salt and can be found in alarming quantities in restaurant food and packed instant food. A component of MSG, glutamic acid, acts as a neurotransmitter in your brain. Excessive amounts of this can cause harmful neurological effects and damage nerve cells. This can in turn lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even risk of cancer.
Not more than 1 teaspoon of salt should be consumed in a day, and that is just for adults. This is roughly 1500 mg a day whereas instant noodles can have up to 2000 mg in just one packet and that itself should raise the alarm. The amount of salt in the packet is normally given in the ‘Nutrition Facts’ area and is labeled as ‘Sodium.’ This heavy amount of Sodium or salt intake can cause your heart to overwork in order to form blood required to dilute the sodium which is extremely harmful, triggering blood pressure and causing kidney failure.
- Trans Fat
Trans fat is a type of dietary fat that is man-made and found in most condiments and instant food. It is, in fact, far more dangerous than Saturated Fat as Trans Fat raises the level of bad LDL cholesterol and decreases the good HDL cholesterol leaving you with risks of heart failure and diabetes. Look for in your label for ‘partially hydrogenated’ or ‘zero trans fat’, the safer option, the next time you pick up a packet of instant food.
- Refined Grains ‘Maida’
We have said this once and we will say it again, do not trust labels that say ‘made with wheat flour’ or any other such mislabelling. They could just be all maida with a sprinkle of oats or molasses for the brown colouring. Refined Grains or Maida as we know it has time and again proven to be a health risk for all. Although it tastes better and sometimes even cheaper, consuming it can raise your chances of having a heart attack by 30%. Any raw food that is ‘refined’ from flour to oil has the potential of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, heart disease and obesity to just name a few. Try to keep maida as minimum as possible in your daily diet.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
A common misconception is that High Fructose Corn Syrup or HFCS is just sweeter corn syrup. In truth, it is an artificially derived sweetener found in our processed food and drinks. We consume this in high amounts unknowingly as it is found in almost every other product. Cheaper to make and easier to mix, HFCS is added to everything from fruit juice to bread, bacon and sauce. It in fact adds an awful amount of sugar in your system causing chronic metabolism defects, obesity, diabetes and heart risks. Although difficult, you must try to avoid food with high amounts of HFCS for your own health benefit.
All this said we live in an age where we cannot go a day without at least one or more of these ingredients in our diet. It is a sad reality that we have become so dependent on the manufactured, processed food industry that we have turned a blind eye to its harmful effects. If this doesn’t stop now, who knows what the future will hold?