If you spend more time at tables in restaurants than you do at the one in your own dining room, and the only thing your kitchen is stocked up with is dust, well… you might want to know that these factors alone could potentially shorten your life. By about 10 years, to be exact.
A new study just found that older people who cook at home for up to five times a week were 47% more likely to live longer than those who don’t. Conducted on 1,888 men and women aged above 65 in Taiwan over the course of 10 years, the study was published in Cambridge University’s journal Public Health Nutrition.
At the beginning of the study, each participant was interviewed on lifestyle factors such as cooking and shopping habits, diet, knowledge of health, and transportation – factors that would determine their likeliness to cook at home. 43% of the subjects never cooked, 17% cooked once or twice a week, 9% cooked three to five times a week and 31% cooked five or more times a week.
At the end of the 10-year run, 695 participants had passed away, leaving 1,193 behind. The researchers discovered that cooking was related to survival, and that lifestyle factors of the participants also contributed to the theory, as these involved errands related to cooking like grocery shopping, waking to the supermarket and taking public transportation.
Additionally, “Those who cook more frequently have a better diet and more favorable nutrient densities,” wrote the authors. “We also found a relationship between a sense of nutrition knowledge and cooking frequency.” This relationship is also influenced by each step of the preparation (purchasing and preparing the ingredients by hand) and the eating itself (often with company).
The analysis also revealed that there were more female survivors than men. This, however, cast limitations to the study seeing as culturally, women are more inclined to whip up a meal in the kitchen than men are.
Although the research was done in Taiwan, cooking at home is also on a decline in developed countries including the USA. As a result of eating out most of the time, people are consuming 50% more calories, fat and sodium, as they tend to order unhealthy options and have little or no control over what takes place in the restaurant kitchen.
“The more you eat in, the more you can control and the healthier your plate is going to be,” says Rachel Brandeis of the American Dietetic Association. Cooking at home is also an essential factor in shaping a family environment as preparing and eating a meal together makes for bonding and quality time.
So make it a point to utilize your kitchen and sharpen your cooking skills in the name of health, relationships and survival! Pack your own lunch to work, and instead of catching up with friends outside, organize a dinner party or a weekend brunch at home.
Of course, by posting up this study we’re not expecting you to swear off restaurants completely. Just pay extra attention to what you order and don’t be afraid to inquire about what will be served on your plate!
How often do you cook at home? How does cooking at home contribute to your lifestyle and your relationship with your loved ones?