What’s so bad about 2 minute noodles and what to eat instead
This article was prompted because my son was introduced to those 2 minute noodle bowls (in styrofoam) at a school camp a few months ago. He came home and bought one from the corner shop as a quick snack. He knows they are not that great (without me having to tell him), but convenience and taste were winning out. On this occasion I did stop him from pouring boiling water into the styrofoam, I made him put it into a bowl!
It’s a whole other article about my teenagers and how their independence has influenced their eating habits so I will tell you about that another time!! Once I started really looking at what was in these noodles though, I was shocked. I knew they were bad but this was particular food was something I really didn’t want to compromise on. We found some alternatives they were happy with and that I would provide with my money, not theirs and now everyone is happy!
So today, I thought I would share with you what I discovered about those 2 minute noodles and let you know about some better alternatives.
Okay so what is wrong with 2 minute noodles?
Well, here is an ingredient list for just one type of these noodles, Maggi 2 minute noodles as sold in Australia (you can find all the products and ingredients on their website).
Noodle Cake: Wheat flour, vegetable oil (antioxidant 319), salt, mineral salts (508, 451, 501, 500), vegetable gum (412).
Flavour Mix Sachet: Iodised Salt, Maltodextrin (Contains Sulphites), Flavour Enhancers (621, 635), Flavours (contains Wheat, Soy, Celery, and Sulphites), Mineral Salt (508), Onion Powder (contains Sulphites), Vegetable Fat (antioxidant (320)), Colours (Tumeric, Caramel III) (Contains Sulphites), Parsley Flakes, Spices.
What I am not loving:
♦ Vegetable oil – this could be anything from GMO canola to unsustainable palm oil and the noodle cake is deep fried in it, so it’s been heated to a toxic level.
♦ Antioxidant 319 – also known as butylhydroquinone. The Chemical Maze by Bill Statham (seriously, everyone needs this book) gives this a sad face. It’s recommended to be avoided because: carcinogenic in high doses, may be associated with birth defects, acute neuro-toxic effects in animals, prohibited in food for infants.
♦ Salt (this isn’t going to be a healthy salt, but a heavily processed white salt)
♦ The mineral salts and vegetable gum are not too bad, but they can cause abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea if consumed in large amounts.
♦ Iodised salt is a refined salt with added iodine (probably synthetic)
♦ Maltodextrin may be GMO and contains sulphites. Sue Dengate, author of Fed Up says “Sulphites have been associated with the full range of food intolerance symptoms including headaches, irritable bowel symptoms, behaviour disturbance and skin rashes but are best known for their effects on asthmatics.”
♦ Flavour Enhancers. The number 621 is MSG. This gets a sad face from The Chemical Maze. The range of problems is extensive! Heart palpitations, pins and needles in the upper limbs, bronchospasm in asthmatics, restlessness, irritability, dizziness, migraine, depression, nausea, tingling and numbness. Prohibited in food for infants. Number 635 is also a sad face and should be avoided by people with asthma. Other problems include unbearably itchy rash, swelling of the lips and tongue, headache, allergic reactions, behavioural problems, heart palpitations, sleep disturbance. Prohibited in food for infants.
♦ Antioxidant 320 is also known as butylated hydroxyanisole – it is banned in some countries and is petroleum derived. The Chemical Maze has two sad faces on this one. It’s problems include suspected respiratory, endocrine, skin, liver, immuno and neuro-toxicity, headache, DNA damage, recognized carcinogen, wheezing, asthma, insomnia, fatigue, depression, chronic urticaria, wild life and enviro toxicity. Prohibited in foods for infants.
♦ Caramel 111 (or 150c) is also given a sad face by The Chemical Maze. It is also referred to as ‘ammonia caramel’ and may affect the liver, may cause gastrointestinal problems and is prohibited in food for infants.
Wow, are you shocked? That’s a chemical cocktail right there in a noodle packet!
The other issues to consider are the interactions of consuming all these toxins together and also the cumulative effect in the body. The Maggi brand is also owned by Nestle, a company I try to avoid supporting due to their unethical practices. A few months ago, Maggi noodles in India were also found to have excess quantities of lead and msg.
Okay, so what are the alternatives?
I know that 2 minute noodles are a quick and easy option, very cheap and kids generally love them. However, in light of the above information and depending on how often your family eat 2 minute noodles, you may want to start swapping over to something better.
Look out for plain rice noodles, brown rice noodles or soba noodles. Learn to read ingredient labels and look for ones with minimal ingredients and no additives. Try the Spiral Organic brand – these are usually great quality.
Okay, so the flavouring sachet is arguably the biggest problem in terms of additives, so what can you use instead? My kids usually just use a knob of butter and a sprinkle of Herbamare (sea salt with veggies and herbs) or sometimes just fresh parmesan cheese.
You might want to provide a few options and see which ones the kids like best. Add in some cooked veges, meat or egg to make your noodles a complete meal!
You can also use:
♥ Dehydrated Bone Broth powder(yummo)
Do your kids like 2 minute noodles? Do you have alternatives to share with us?