(Health Secrets) Cooking at home can help to extend your life, according to a recent study. As well as the potential nutritional benefits of cooking at home, the study found that cooking at home was linked with better mental and social health, and with increased levels of physical activity.
What did the study show?
The study was conducted by Monash University and the National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan, and looked at the cooking habits of almost 2000 people over the age of 65 who lived independently in Taiwan. The study ran for nine years.
When the participants in the study were initially assessed, the type of information that was recorded included how often they cooked, how often they ate out, their knowledge of nutrition, whether they were responsible for buying ingredients, their social and marital status, and their nutritional intake.
The participants were divided into four groups:
- 31% cooked at home at least five times per week
- 9% cooked at home three to five times per week
- 17% cooked at home twice a week or less
- 43% never cooked at home
During the course of the study, close to 700 of the participants died. Analysis of the data showed that the participants who cooked at home five times per week were 47% more likely to still be alive at the end of the ten year study period than those that never cooked at home.
The study showed that people who cooked at home had a better understanding of nutrition and how it could benefit health. They were likely to be more active, as food shopping and preparing a meal involves a certain degree of physical activity. The results also showed that women were more likely to reap the benefits of cooking at home, especially if they had a spouse at home to cook for, and it is believed that the emotional satisfaction of cooking for another person can benefit overall health.
The benefits of cooking at home
Emeritus Professor Mark Wahlqvist, the lead author of the study, suggests that there are a number of benefits to cooking at home:
“We found those that cooked more frequently had a better sense of nutritional knowledge than those who didn’t. It is therefore possible that cooking is related to longevity through food choice and quality. Cooking is an activity that requires both good mental and physical health. Besides the health benefits the actual cooked meal provides, there are other physiological benefits obtained from its production, purchase, preparation and eating, especially with others.”
When you cook for yourself you have more control over the ingredients you use and can avoid the high levels of processed salt, food additives such as monosodium glutamate, pesticides, and unhealthy preservatives that are often associated with processed foods. Many people believe that home cooking is more expensive than using ready meals or pre-prepared foods, but as long as you buy seasonal produce and combine high volumes of vegetables with small portions of meat, this doesn’t need to be the case.
Cooking at home can be a very sociable activity if you live with other people, as the kitchen can quickly become the hub of the house. If you live alone, inviting friends over to cook can be more rewarding than meeting up at a restaurant or ordering takeout. Home cooking can provide more choice and nutritional variety, and can improve your physical, mental and emotional health.