The Health Benefits of Cooking

Very few people would argue with the idea that a home-cooked meal is healthier than one eaten at a restaurant. Scientists would certainly agree. In fact, studies have shown that people consume 50 percent more calories, salt, and fat when eating out, and researchers have consistently proven that diet has a powerful effect on our health. However, better nutrition is only one of the many health benefits that home cooking provides. In reality, this practice seems to offer incredible benefits across all areas of health.

The act of cooking itself can be powerfully effective in focusing the mind, something that has been known for centuries. The Zen masters of ancient Japan wrote treatises on how cooking can be a meditative act that increases mindfulness, while modern practitioners and chefs have discussed how cooking can unleash creative energies that may be difficult to capture in everyday life. In addition, the act of dining together at home seems to be equally important, especially for children. Studies show that frequent family meals lead to better grades, higher levels of happiness, and reduced chances of drug and alcohol abuse.

Of course, many will insist that eating home-cooked meals is mostly important for the nutritional advantages, especially since researchers have found that those that eat at home often consume more fruit and vegetables, as well as many healthful vitamins and minerals. However, cooking itself, regardless of content, seems to be healthful in and of itself. In a landmark study conducted in Taiwan, researchers examined the cooking habits of nearly 1,900 subjects above the age of 65. A decade later, they returned to check the health outcomes of the subjects, and the results showed that those who cook five times or more a week were significantly more likely to live longer. Even controlling for various other factors, such as smoking, scientists found that cooking at home contributed to longevity. Given that kind of advantage, avoiding take-out in favor of a delicious home-cooked meal seems like a no-brainer.

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