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Instant Noodles Increase Heart Problems in Women: Study

Aug 22, 2014 10:01 AM EDT
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Regular consumption of instant noodles, including ramen, can increase cardiometabolic syndrome risk, a new study suggests.

Cardiometabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of risk factors that increase a person's chances of developing heart disease as well as other complications such as type-2 diabetes.

The study, conducted by researchers at Baylor Scott & White Health, has found that women who regularly eat instant noodles are at a greater risk of developing heart and metabolic problems.

"While instant noodle intake is greater in Asian communities, the association between instant noodle consumption and metabolic syndrome has not been widely studied," said Hyun Joon Shin, MD, is a clinical cardiology fellow at Baylor University Medical Center. "I decided to investigate in order to uncover more distinct connections."

Noodle consumption is high in South Korea. The researchers say that the Asian country has seen a rise in the number of heart disease cases in the past few years. A major chunk of the population has also become overweight. Health experts believe that an increased reliance on instant noodles has contributed to the increase in heart problems in this population.

In the present study, the researchers analyzed data from 10,711 people living in South Korea. The team found two major diet patterns: one was traditional with lots of rice, greens and fish, while the other was meat and fast food diet, which included meat, instant noodles and soda, Time reported.

Scientists found that none of the diets were alone responsible for higher cardiometabolic syndrome. However, people who ate ramen two or more times a week had higher risk of the syndrome.

Shin said that the risk was particularly high in women. One possible explanation for this observation is that eating habits differ among men and women and this might lead to increased risk of heart disease. Other reasons include hormonal changes or chemicals used to pack the noodles.

"This research is significant since many people are consuming instant noodles without knowing possible health risks," Dr. Shin said in a news release. "My hope is that this study can lay a foundation for future research about the health effects of instant noodle consumption."

The study was conducted by researchers at The Journal of Nutrition.

South Koreans, meanwhile, have reacted to the current study with a feeling of wounded pride, resistance and even nationalism. 

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