With Type 2 diabetes affecting close to 30 million Americans, reducing sugar content and boosting the nutritional value of food has become a national priority. And there may be one very simple way to do it, says new research: preparing more home-cooked meals.
That’s the opinion of researchers presenting at the recent American Heart Association conference.
The research team looked at data taken from the Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which surveyed nearly 100,000 men and women about their meal habits over the course of more than three decades.
What the researchers found was that people who cooked at home—at least two meals per day—decreased their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by about 13 percent compared to people who prepared six meals or fewer at home each week.
“We know that eating out is associated with lower diet quality and higher obesity in young adolescents, as well as insulin resistance and high triglyceride levels,” Geng Zong, from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, said at a news conference where he and colleagues presented their research findings.
According to Zong, processed foods, while abundant in supermarkets, are more common in restaurant meals than home-cooked meals. Cooking at home naturally reduces the exposure to unhealthy fats (deep-fried food, for example, is prepared far less at home while it continues to be a restaurant staple).
Those who consumed home-cooked meals gained less weight over time than those who regularly dined at restaurants.
“It’s also possible that people eating at home drank fewer sugar-sweetened sodas with their meals, also contributing to their lower rates of insulin resistance and diabetes,” reports TIME Magazine.
The researchers noted that as simple as it sounds, increasing the number of home-cooked meals could be the first—and most important—step in reducing the risk of developing diabetes. Zong also urged Americans to avoid fast food when dining out, and urged restaurant chains to take steps to make their offerings healthier.
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