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Damn, I still love noodles!

 

ADITI PRASAD | New Delhi, April 3, 2012 10:42
Tags : trans fat | Magiee noodles | KFC | fast food | burgers | CSE | MacDonald | Haldiram Bhujia |
 

Damn, I still love noodles!Having spent most of my school and college life in a hostel, junk food for me has always been somewhat of a treasured treat. Well, after the regimented diet of icky yellow dal and overcooked potatoes in the hostel dining room, who would not enjoy a nice pot of Maggie noodles with friends, slow-cooked on the humble room heater in the middle of the night?

And then came the first warning – sounded in succinct Bhojpuri by my grandma – when I was on one of those summer breaks in school. “Muta Jaeebo (you’ll grow fat),” she warned, prophesying that those much-loved burgers, noodles and French fries would eventually stick it to me.

I obviously didn’t listen and they obviously stuck to me, quite literally!

Yes, I am overweight. And yes, I still have at least a dozen Good Samaritan friends who just love to point at almost every little bulge on me and condescendingly nudge me about my bulk. But over the years, I’ve sort of learnt to let those comments slide. I still love Maggie; enjoy the occasional McDonald’s Burger and/or theKFC Zinger; and I feel guilty as hell even writing this, but Haldiram Bhujia is almost part of my daily diet.

Hey, what else do you expect from a person who has literally grown up on a steady diet of all of the above?

The only saving grace is that as I grew up and became a little conscious about my looks and health. I consciously read and re-read (for assurance) the printed info on packages of popular foods and began moderating my in-takes. I even indulged in now-on, now-off little something’s to balance the calorie intake in the form of gym, yoga and pranayam (this one inspired by none other than the famous yoga guru turned anti-graft crusader Baba Ramdev).

I became comfortable with being overweight. Even the sly comments and snide remarks by seemingly well-meaning (but inwardly gloating) friends didn’t bother me no more.

That is, until the meddlesome Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) decided to upset my carefully balanced apple cart. The latest damning study from CSE about the big food brands misleading consumers has not gone down quite well with me. The New Delhi based outfit which has obviously taken personal responsibility of the nation’s health says that most junk foods, including my favorite brand of noodles, burgers and aloo bhujia, contain very high levels of trans fats, salt and sugar, which will inevitably lead to severe ill health and diseases like obesity and diabetes.

First, can somebody please explain what trans-fats are? And why are they more harmful than normal fats? I mean the word “trans” in simple English could perhaps mean transparent, if you’re feeling lucky that is. But since I am not a typically lucky soul – as most of my 37-year old exploits bear silent witness to – I hesitatingly googled the term only to be first baffled and as reality sank in, a little subdued.

So for other unlucky ones like me – here’s the googly that google sprung on me. Trans fats are apparently the worst kinds of fats alive or the scum of the fat world if you please. Also called trans-fatty acids — they not only raise your "bad" (LDL) cholesterol, but also have the impertinence to simultaneously lower your "good" (HDL) cholesterol.

Talk about a cholesterol double whammy!

Why do your favourite brands use it? Well, given that trans fats are made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation, it makes the oil less likely to spoil. When used in manufacturing of foods, it helps foods to stay fresh longer, have a less greasy feel and of course helps those attractive food packets enjoy a longer shelf life.

Use of trans fats in such reckless abandon by the food industry and consumed in abundance by not-so-healthy freaks like me, is apparently a serious cause for worry. Given that they can't be broken down in the digestive system, these trans fats accumulate and clog up arteries leading to greater heart risk. Nutrition experts believe that they are more dangerous than naturally-occurring oils and butters.

Let’s get back to the CSE findings for a moment. The Centre’s lab claims to have tested 16 major brands of junk foods, including Maggi and Top Ramen noodles, MacDonald’s foods, KFC’s fried chicken and Haldiram’s Aloo Bhujia and found big time misbranding and misinformation printed on the food packs. Many of these products say that they contain zero trans fats, but CSE has found heavy doses of it, which is obviously grotesquely unhealthy.

Point is, now I can’t even trust the printed words on the deliciously colorful packages of my sinful treats. So what do I do? Say my goodbyes to my favorite slurpy noodles? Vow never again to let my taste buds dominate my desire for finger-lickin’good burgers?

Tough!

All I know is that I will try harder to avoid the calls of those gastronomic delights. And if I am unable to resist, I’ll try to remember that I am just overweight with no outwards signs of diabetes or heart ailments… at least not just yet.

Guess I still love those darned noodles, trans-fats and all!

 
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Sunday Indian)
 
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017