Think of this the next time you slurp a cheap cup of hot ramen noodles: It could be linked to heart disease, especially if you're a woman, the AP reports. A new American study of South Korea's ramen consumption examined the diets of 10,700 people aged 19 to 64. They found both healthy (fish and rice) and unhealthy (meat and fast food) diet trends, but neither was linked to metabolic syndrome and ultimately heart disease, the New York Times explains. When instant noodles were thrown in the mix, researchers saw trouble. Women who ate a cup of them more than twice a week saw a 68% jump in cardiometabolic syndrome. It didn't matter what else they ate.
Some South Koreans are a little steamed—and defensive—about the study's findings. After all, South Koreans eat more ramen than anyone else; the sodium-rich 80-cent cup is found everywhere there, from comic book stores to libraries and train stations. One man tells the AP, while guzzling ramen: "There's no way any study is going to stop me from eating this." Love for the instant noodle spans generations—it reminds the elderly of post-Korean War recovery and for the young and busy, it's quick and cheap. For others, "the smell and taste create an instant sense of home," says one Seoul resident. (Here's how ramen got its start)