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Noodles have quickly become the staple food of our times. When we’re short on time and our children need something to eat, we readily opt for Chinese noodles for kids or one of the numerous other varieties in the market. But we do need to stop and think if they are the right choice for our children or not.
Is It Safe to Give Noodles to Babies and Older Children?
Many products in the market may show instant noodles for kids as a great choice for a snack. But most of these noodles are not a safe option for your children, and definitely not for toddlers and infants.
Why Instant Noodles are Harmful for Infants and Older Children?
Here are some reasons why instant noodles aren’t good for your little ones.
1. Food that is Highly Processed
Primarily made out of maida, instant noodles are processed for packaging. The focus is not on any vitamins or minerals, which leads to very low nutrition. Such food items are also termed as empty calorie consumables.
2. Trans Fats Carriers
For a longer shelf life, these noodles are steamed and then deep fried in oil during their processing. This leads to trans fats from the oil to become a part of the noodles, leading to weight gain in your child.
3. Wax Coating
Noodles need to look attractive and that is achieved by coating them with a layer of wax in the manufacturing process. Wax is quite harmful to children and is known to cause damage to the liver.
4. Food With Propylene Glycol
Noodles cannot be dry and need to retain their internal moisture. This is attained by adding propylene glycol to them. Kids are at a higher risk with this chemical since it gets collected very quickly within the heart, liver and kidneys, causing long-term damage to them.
5. Presence of Monosodium Glutamate
MSG, as it was famously abbreviated and reported in the news, is widely used in instant noodles for a very important reason. It highly enhances the flavour. However, this chemical is harmful to children as well as adults, since it is known to lead to brain damage.
6. Sodium as a Preservative
Noodles already contain salt in high amounts to preserve them for long durations. Sodium, the element present in salt, also directly affect the vital organs of the body and can cause damage when consumed excessively.
7. Presence of Harmful Chemicals
Apart from the aforementioned ones, various chemicals such as plasticisers and dioxin are present in the packing material of the noodles. While cooking the noodles, these chemicals might find their way into the water and are extremely harmful to consume, since they are carcinogenic.
Can Instant Noodles be Carcinogenic?
MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is the flavour enhancer in noodles and is known to cause cancer and brain damage in kids when excessively consumed. Dioxin and other plasticisers which form crucial components in the packaging of the noodles can also find their way into the final dish during the cooking process.
One may assume that their quantity of consumption isn’t high or that they take care while cooking, but certain factors which can cause cancer are not a risk worth taking.
What you Should Do?
As tasty as various noodle recipes for kids might be, after knowledge of their harmful nature, one needs to be more careful before directly serving them to your children.
- On cooking the noodles, you can make sure that the noodles are drained well so that all the excess fat and salts are removed from them.
- Instead of resorting to the packaged flavouring and seasoning that accompanies the noodle packets, try your hand at using home-made seasoning alternatives that do not contain salts and other chemicals in such quantities.
- While cooking the noodles, go for a healthy oil alternative than using the standard palm oil. This imparts a different flavour to the noodles as well.
- Since the entire noodle preparation does not inherently hold any nutritional value, you may try to add some chopped vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, peas, beans, etc. to make it visually appealing and tasty to consume as well.
While purchasing noodles from the market, keep an eye on options that have sodium and other fats in low quantities. Most of them are earmarked for adults so you might have to hunt a little more to get the right one to serve your children. There are tons of other alternatives such as soups or other preparations that you can introduce your child, too. However, if your child is already hooked on them, you can incentivise the serving of instant noodles by limiting the number of times you purchase them and dishing them out only on certain occasions.
Certain options of instant natural noodles are available in the market as well that are manufactured and processed using health-approved cooking techniques and make use of various natural ingredients for flavouring and different processes to preserve them in packets. Opting for rice noodles or organic vermicelli can be a smart shift to let your kids know that you are serving noodles, just of a different kind.
Also Read – 12 Healthy Snacks for Children