TBHQ prevents oxidation of fats and oils and is a common ingredient in processed food.
An experiment performed by a doctor in Massachusetts has people questioning whether they will ever eat instant noodles again.
Dr. Braden Kuo of Massachusetts General Hospital used a camera the size of a pill to find out what happens while the body digests pre-cooked noodles. The resulting video showed that the noodles were still largely intact after two hours, according to USA Today.
TBHQ prevents oxidation of fats and oils and is a common ingredient in processed food. McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Wheat Thins and Teddy Grahams all contain TBHQ.
The Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives reported that 1 gram of TBHQ can cause a number of adverse effects, including nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium and a sense of suffocation.
Prolonged exposure to TBHQ can cause biochemical changes and affect liver and reproductive function.
A 2014 study in medical periodical The Journal of Nutrition concluded that women in South Korea who ate more instant noodles were more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome, the symptoms of which include obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and low levels of HDL cholesterol, which is considered the “good” cholesterol.
“Although instant noodle is a convenient and delicious food, there could be an increased risk for metabolic syndrome given [the food’s] high sodium, unhealthy saturated fat and glycemic loads,” said Harvard doctoral candidate Hyun Shin, according to PreventDisease.com.
People with metabolic syndrome are at an increased risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
Instant noodles also contain high levels of monosodium glutamate, an excitotoxin that can cause damage or death to nerve cells by over-stimulating them. Damaged nerve cells are a factor in the development of debilitating neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and ALS.
Lisa Young, a nutritionist and professor at New York University, told PreventDisease.com she hopes people keep these things in mind the next time they go to buy a package of instant noodles.
“Instant noodles are high in fat, high in salt, high in calories and they’re processed — all those factors could contribute to some of the health problems [the study] addressed,” Young said. “That doesn’t mean that every single person is going to respond the same way, but the piece to keep in mind is that it’s not a healthy product, and it is a processed food.”