Eating Instant Ramen Has An Unexpected Effect On Your Eyes

You might equate ramen noodles with an easy lunch when your parents or kids aren't around. It could also be one of those foods that makes you think of your college days with a smile. Regardless of how you reminisce about ramen, it's a staple in many American households because the little brick with the packet pouch is both easy to make and inexpensive.

Ramen noodles hail from Asian countries, where whole stores are dedicated to this delicious soup. However, while Asian ramen might be created from a broth base and have various veggies, the American variety is a little lacking. In addition to being loaded with salt and preservatives, the soup can be hard to digest and create issues for some. WebMD notes that the risk of metabolic syndrome increases in women who eat ramen more than twice a week; moreover, it can contribute to diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke. Ramen is also lacking in protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients, per Healthline. As Cara Harbstreet, M.S., RD, LD, told EatingWell, "Objectively speaking, instant ramen noodles may not be the most nutritious option out there. They can be very high in sodium and may not contain much in the way of fiber, whole grains, vitamins or minerals."

Eating ramen daily can also affect your eyes due to the preservatives in it. It's also a known trigger for migraines.

Preservatives in instant ramen can cause visual disturbances

The added preservatives in ramen can cause eye issues when consumed frequently. According to Healthline, tert-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is added to ramen noodles for a long shelf life; when consumed in small doses, this shouldn't cause you any significant harm. 

But when you eat ramen regularly, TBHQ can cause neurotoxic effects like vision disturbances, per Pub Chem. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration limits the use of TBHQ to 0.02%, which you can easily go over when having several bowls of ramen. Further, 2022 research in Toxicology Reports reveals that TBHQ at higher quantities can cause "cytotoxic, genotoxic, carcinogenic, and mutagenic effects."

With that said, you can still enjoy ramen and minimize your risk of vision disturbances by using broth rather than the included flavor packet for the soup. It's also beneficial to add a variety of vegetables to make your ramen more nutritious. "Anything from mushrooms to carrots to boy choy or cabbage can instantly add flavor, volume and nutrition to your bowl," suggests Cara Harbstreet, M.S., RD, LD (per EatingWell).

MSG can cause visual disturbances by triggering a migraine

If you've ever wondered what makes Asian meals so delectable, many will tell you it's the MSG enhancing the flavor. MSG (monosodium glutamate) is generally safe for consumption, but it's been known to be a migraine trigger in those who suffer from headache disorder, per Healthline.

A migraine goes beyond just a typical headache and can even render people unable to function. Beyond just pain and vomiting, about 25% to 30% of people experience visual disturbances known as visual auras, according to the American Migraine Foundation. Visual disturbances can happen in one or both eyes and leave your field of vision with everything from lines to blind spots to fractured vision for less than an hour. 

The connection between migraines and MSG isn't that clear, though. A 2013 study in the Journal of Headache and Pain broke 14 individuals up into MSG and placebo groups. The MSG group showed headaches in about half the participants and increases in blood pressure that were attributed to the ingestion of MSG. However, a 2016 review in the same journal looked at several studies conducted on the causal relationship between headaches and MSG, and concluded that more research is needed in this area.