Cooking makes you healthier

Cooking can save your life. Image: Shutterstock

All those hours that you’ve spent watching Master Chef could actually pay off.

Preparing a meal requires more than just dropping by the local café or fast food joint. Honing your cooking skills is not easy, but it is worth it as they could improve your life.

A recent study conducted by Taiwanese and Australian scientists at the National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan demonstrated that those who cook frequently (more than five times a week) have a longer, healthier life.

Professor Rosalid Chai-Yu Chen and her colleagues tracked the cooking practices of elderly people aged 65 and older. After 10 years, those who cooked frequently had better cognitive and physical functions; they also walked more, ate more fruits and vegetables, and less meat. “It has become clear that cooking is a healthy behaviour,” said Mark L Wahlqvist, who works at the National Health Research Institute in Taiwan.

In this study, women benefited more from cooking that men did. “One reason why women may benefit most from cooking later in life is that they are cooking for someone else, as they have probably always done: that is, they are cooking with greater purpose than simply preparing meals from themselves,” said Wahlqvist.

Choosing the ingredients, buying them, preparing them, and then sharing a meal with friends or family could explain why people who cook often have a healthier lifestyle. For the elderly, cooking also provides a sense of control, independence and autonomy. But the elderly are not the only ones who benefit from this practise.

For example, children who have a home-cooked lunch are at a lower risk of suffering obesity. University of Granada researchers suggest that children who do not eat at home present a poorer nutritional status than children whose meal is prepared by their parents.

Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that women are happier and less stressed after eating at home. In the paper the researchers wrote: “The home is a privileged environment that nurtures healthy eating and in which healthier food choices trigger more positive emotions.”

Turns out the by-products of cooking aren’t just dirty dishes and messy kitchens, but good nutrition and sociability. Cooking “deserves a place in life-long education, public health policy, urban planning and household economics. The pathways to health that food provides are not limited to its nutrients or components, but extend to each step in the food chain, from its production, to purchase, preparation and eating, especially with others,” said Wahlqvist.

Source: Australian Media Science Centre

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