The Myths and Truths about INSTANT NOODLES… (Part 2 of 2)

Because of the hurried lifestyle nowadays, more and more moms (and other homemakers) face the challenge of finding the best “convenient foods” for their family. One of the most popular products in this category is the instant noodle. But what “good” does exactly instant noodles offer to its consumers?

In the same way that the food manufacturers owe the public a correct ingredients declaration, consumers must be aware of what they are taking and therefore should exercise reading the product’s label prior to its purchase. A normal packet of noodles will have nutritional information such as this:

Indeed, like any other commercially processed food product in the market today, instant noodles are also packed with some nutrients. The important question now really is how transparent the food manufacturer was in providing the right declaration? This is something that the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) should properly regulate and monitor. Not to discount the Bureau’s capability, I’m sure they have put the rules and regulations in place. (well, we really hope so, aren’t we?!).

What about its ingredients? What do the noodle pouches and bowls have inside? Here’s the typical list:

The ingredients that will be in the “hot list” or (consumer alert) so to speak are MSG, salt, and all the other "technical sounding" substances commonly referred to as additives. The unhealthy claims on MSG have long been battled in the food industry. But until now, no established studies can fully support the arguments hence, it is continuously being used in food processing. On the subject of salt, it is often link to hypertension and other kidney related illnesses. In fact, health concerns on sodium levels in commercially processed foods have already been raised in the developed countries and certainly Philippines should not be left behind. Consumers must be mindful of the recommended daily intake of sodium which is no more than 3000 mg (1 1/2 tsp of table salt). A 60 gram pack of noodles normally contains less than the prescribed amount. According to the book of RENI (Recommended Energy and Nutrients Intake), the sodium in food falls into three main categories: sodium naturally present in the food and beverages, sodium added during processing or cooking and sodium in table salt and sauces added at the table. Therefore, we have to be cautious of our day to day diet. For the moms out there, this might be an important information: It was noted that sodium requirement is highest per unit body weight in infants and young children in whom extracellular fluid volume is rapidly expanding (FNB,1989). Moreover, infants lose proportionately more sodium in feces than do adults (Guthrie and Picciano, 1995). In essence, most humans can adapt to wide variations in salt intake. However, there are also salt-sensitive individuals who have difficulty eliminating sodium from their body efficiently. Thus, the US Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) recommended to limit the adults daily intake of salt to 6g or less. To serve as your guide in determining the sodium level in a particular amount of salt, always remember that salt consists of 40% sodium and 60% chloride.

In the case of preservatives, again so much have been said and done in this raw material. It's good to know that there are a lot of institutions doing stringent evaluation prior to its approval or grant of food safety. If you want to be enligtened more, you can check the Codex Alimentarius, FEMA (flavor and extract manufacturers association), or FDA (Food & Drug Administration) - GRAS (generally recognized as safe). Additives are normally added into food in very small amounts (e.g. in ppm levels or parts per million). What is essential to note is that the effects if ever there may be will only result from "exceedingly" large consumptions. The way to put it is probably consuming a hundred of packs of instant noodles per day which, we all know is way too much from reality. Thus far, enjoying a bowl of steaming hot instant noodles once in a while will not do any harm to our body. In a nutshell, we all want to live healthy and the key to that is moderation.


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