The myths and truths about INSTANT NOODLES… (Part 1 of 2)

Instant noodles are now recognized as staples in the Filipinos' dining table. With the enormous line of products available in the commercial food shelves right now, who else is not yet serving instant noodles to their family or have not tried at all? If you’re one of them, you’ve probably heard of the myths and hoaxes that roamed around for some time – 1) that noodles is the cause of “bangungot” (nightmare), 2) that instant noodles and its Styro container has wax and 3) that MSG in noodles became toxic when cooked. All these and more are nothing but misleading information. Instant noodles in the Philippines although growing is still at its infant stage relative to our other neighboring asian countries. Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Malaysia are far more large consumers of this product than the Philippines. Their noodle industry has grown full blown! Yet, none of these countries reported a single incident related to any of those “questionable claims”. Thus, we all ought to know the truth behind it. And here are the more enlightening facts straight from the country’s leading manufacturer of instant noodles:

“Monosodium glutamate, or MSG, is a flavor enhancer classified by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as a generally recognized as safe, or GRAS, ingredient. Likewise, the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified it as “not specified”, the safest category for a food additive, and has chosen not to set a limit on Accepted Daily Intake (ADI) of MSG.

Generally, MSG is added to foods before, during or after cooking. It is a stable food element, which means that it does not change its molecular structure when added to boiling water or with other ingredients. Therefore, it is not (nor does it become) toxic.

Furthermore, instant noodles do not contain any wax. Noodle strands do not stick together because of cassava or potato starch, one of its main ingredients. Starch is what gives instant noodles its smooth texture and chewy bite. Its removal will cause clumping among the strands.

Neither do the styrofoam containers have wax. Styrofoam is composed of 95% air and 5% polystyrene. It meets stringent US FDA standards for use in food packaging and is safe for consumers. It does not in any way transfer its odor or taste to food because it is an inert, unreactive material.

One of the most dreaded forms of death - nightmare or “bangungot” in Filipino language, will not in anyway be caused by eating instant noodles. According to Dr. Eric Tayag, Director of National Epidemiology Center of DOH, the most common sources of nightmare have something to do with the state of mind, environment influences, genetic cardiac abnormalities and evil spirits. He also added that in medical parlance, nightmare is sudden and unexplained death in sleep and that the e-mail hoax on noodles will become part of the urban legend among urban legends that we have.”

Learning all that, don’t you think it’s really safe to grab a pouch now?

**photos courtesy of this site


But is it true that too much intake of instant noodles (and how much is too much) causes liver problems? I heard from a friend that people nowadays who go into dialysis are much younger and whose diet includes coke, instant noodles and coffee? How true??
Sherra said…
Hi Ami,

I really contemplated on your comment. On the liver problem, you might be referring to the intake of too much salt or sodium perhaps, which are normally associated to instant noodles? (there’ll be more of this on part II of my noodle article). I think anything consumed in excess is really bad for the health. Things can be both bad and good at the same time, which holds true for the nutrients our bodies absorbed. Our bodies need sodium but the only recommended dietary intake is less than 3000 mg/day (about 1 ½ tsp of salt) in excess of this will lead to some health problems. So it’s advisable to read the product label to have an idea on how much you’ll be taking per serving. A pack of 60g instant noodles per day might be sufficient enough. It’s worth noting though, that there exists a healthy, noodle-eating country like Japan. The per capita intake of noodles of the Japanese is for sure bigger than Filipinos yet they are considered as one of the healthiest people in the world at the same time. The contents of instant noodles in Japan will in no way be so much different to what’s locally available for us. So, I guess our choice of lifestyle is a big contributing factor as well.

Thus, the bottom line really is: Live Healthy, Eat Smart!
Christianne said…
I've never heard that rumor about MSG becoming toxic. Weird naman hehe. But even if it's considered safe by the FDA, we should still minimize using MSG in food. Salt is safe, but should be taken in moderation. It's the same with MSG - actually mas delikado pa nga kaysa salt because it's artificial. When my aunt got cancer she was told to not take in any MSG at all. Even if we're healthy, why take the risk di ba?

Nakakatawa that somebody from the DOH,and a doctor at that, would say that bangungot is caused by evil spirits. :D
Too much of anything is always bad. Noodles are carbohydrates which when eaten turns into sugar. Be sure to lessen intake of other sources of carbohydrates when you eat noodles most especially if you are a diabetic. These patients usually end up undergoing dialysis when their kidneys get affected.
Anonymous said…
OMG! Instant Pancit Canton monster pa naman ako!

Thanks for sharing this!
Anonymous said…
Oh ok, myth pala. I just read the first part kasi hehehe!
but isn't it true that since the human body has its natural processes and "set up", it does not have the natural capacity to break synthetic enzymes from synthetic food or additives? thus everything unnatural becomes stuck up or toxins and if not flushed out, stay inside?
Anonymous said…
What nutritional value will we get from instant noodles or anything instant for that matter?

The instant noodle debate goes beyond whether it is toxic or not. It has a lot to do with awareness that we don't need to fall for advertising traps.
Lynn said…
This is a very interesting post. Thanks for the added knowledge. I never believed though about noodles causing nightmares and noodles and styrofoam with wax. But the instant noodles we have now in the market are full of preservatives, right? (The packed ingredients that go w/ the noodles.) I have them from time to time but I try not to make it a habit.
Sherra said…
To Connie, Christianne, Amelyn, Mitchteryosa, Hailey, Lynn and Ami thanks for voicing out your thoughts on the noodle post!

On Hailey, not all food ingredients in particular additives are in artificial form. There are also those that are classified as natural and nature identical. In the right context, it is fair to say that most food additives are not inherently harmful. They are as safe as it is humanly possible to make them. Their use in food is acceptable provided that they serve some useful purpose and are not harmful.You can check out these two links, they will help explain more.

kind regards!
vic somar said…
is it safe for type 2 diabetic to eat everyday instant noodles as breakfast?
Anonymous said…
Are you part of the MondeNissin? Of Course every company will support its products and make sure that their products are safe and useful in the eyes of customers, every positive statement.
Any drug and health organization can be bribed to give permission to a substance or drug which they claim to be safe. As long as it results in profit. Who knows?
Anonymous said…
To anonymous, I agree with your statements that every company will support their products and will not present and adverse effects to human health. We must take into consideration that not all products approved by FDA are good to health, in fact there are many products approved by FDA which do more harm than good to human body like aspartame.
Papichulo168 said…
"According to Dr. Eric Tayag, Director of National Epidemiology Center of DOH, the most common sources of nightmare have something to do with the state of mind, environment influences, genetic cardiac abnormalities and evil spirits."

Dr. Eric Tayag believes in evil spirits. Good job Dr. Eric.
Anonymous said…
Samantalang yung asawa ko at byenan ko naniniwalang may styro foam ang lahat ng pancit. At di daw pwede ipakain sa bata. Can someone help these fools?

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