Cooking to Live Longer

Cooking to Live Longer
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Does cooking meals at home lead to improved health outcomes? And how do TV dinners compare nutritionally to TV-chef recipes?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Modern Americans are described as “eat[ing] breakfast in their cars, lunch at their desks and chicken from a bucket.” Within the last few decades, Americans are eating out more and more, and cooking fewer meals at home. And, “[f]ood prepared at home” tends to be healthier—”less…saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium,…more fiber.”

And so, the “benefits to preparing healthful food at home [may include] chronic disease prevention.” But, even during the recession, folks were found “resistant to dietary change,” and kept going out to eat, or bringing it home. “Almost half of all fast-food…eaten by children [is eaten] at home.” So, just because they’re technically eating at home doesn’t mean they’re eating healthy.

“Even when [food is] prepared at home,” it still may not mean much, as most dinners were found to incorporate “processed commercial foods.” Microwaving a frozen pizza ain’t exactly home cooking. One of the problems is many people no longer know how to cook. For example, one study reported that “25% of the men…had absolutely no cooking skills” whatsoever.

“It is encouraging to see the new wave of interest in cooking, in numerous [TV] shows.” But, what are they actually cooking? A study in the UK compared the nutritional “content of…meals created by television chefs with ready meals,” like TV dinners, “to compare both with nutrition…guidelines [set forth] by the World Health Organization.” They looked at a hundred of each, and not a single one complied with the nutrition standards. And, the TV chef recipes were even “less healthy” than the TV dinners.

Many people just don’t know how to make healthy food taste good. This is not a new problem. As an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association bemoaned back in 1913: In the United States, “vegetables are frequently boiled in a way which deprives them of their characteristic odor and [their] toothsomeness. ‘Villainous and idiotic’ are the only adjectives that can describe our methods of cooking vegetables” in the United States.

Is there any research showing that cooking meals at home actually improves health outcomes? Do people who cook live longer? We didn’t know, until now. Researchers in Taiwan found that those “who cook their own food are healthier, and [do, indeed, appear to] live longer.

“In a 10-year study, [they found that] those who cooked most frequently “had only 59% of the mortality risk.” And, this took into account the exercise people got grocery shopping, and “physical function and chewing ability.” So, why did they live longer? Well, those that cooked ate more nutritious foods—”as evidenced [by] their higher consumption of vegetables.”

The effect on mortality was much more evident in women than in men, though. Turns out that “men were, with doubtful justification, more positive about the [nutritive] value…of convenience foods.” So, their idea of cooking was like microwaving a Pop-Tart®, whereas “women who cook [actually make] better food choices.”

As one author noted, last century, “we began the long process of turning over to the food industry many of the decisions about what we eat…Today, our staggering rates of obesity and diabetes are testimony to the faith we put in corporations to feed us well. But the food industry is a business, not a parent; it doesn’t care what we eat as long as we’re willing to pay for it. Home cooking these days has far more than sentimental value; it’s a survival skill.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to dno1967b via flickr

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Modern Americans are described as “eat[ing] breakfast in their cars, lunch at their desks and chicken from a bucket.” Within the last few decades, Americans are eating out more and more, and cooking fewer meals at home. And, “[f]ood prepared at home” tends to be healthier—”less…saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium,…more fiber.”

And so, the “benefits to preparing healthful food at home [may include] chronic disease prevention.” But, even during the recession, folks were found “resistant to dietary change,” and kept going out to eat, or bringing it home. “Almost half of all fast-food…eaten by children [is eaten] at home.” So, just because they’re technically eating at home doesn’t mean they’re eating healthy.

“Even when [food is] prepared at home,” it still may not mean much, as most dinners were found to incorporate “processed commercial foods.” Microwaving a frozen pizza ain’t exactly home cooking. One of the problems is many people no longer know how to cook. For example, one study reported that “25% of the men…had absolutely no cooking skills” whatsoever.

“It is encouraging to see the new wave of interest in cooking, in numerous [TV] shows.” But, what are they actually cooking? A study in the UK compared the nutritional “content of…meals created by television chefs with ready meals,” like TV dinners, “to compare both with nutrition…guidelines [set forth] by the World Health Organization.” They looked at a hundred of each, and not a single one complied with the nutrition standards. And, the TV chef recipes were even “less healthy” than the TV dinners.

Many people just don’t know how to make healthy food taste good. This is not a new problem. As an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association bemoaned back in 1913: In the United States, “vegetables are frequently boiled in a way which deprives them of their characteristic odor and [their] toothsomeness. ‘Villainous and idiotic’ are the only adjectives that can describe our methods of cooking vegetables” in the United States.

Is there any research showing that cooking meals at home actually improves health outcomes? Do people who cook live longer? We didn’t know, until now. Researchers in Taiwan found that those “who cook their own food are healthier, and [do, indeed, appear to] live longer.

“In a 10-year study, [they found that] those who cooked most frequently “had only 59% of the mortality risk.” And, this took into account the exercise people got grocery shopping, and “physical function and chewing ability.” So, why did they live longer? Well, those that cooked ate more nutritious foods—”as evidenced [by] their higher consumption of vegetables.”

The effect on mortality was much more evident in women than in men, though. Turns out that “men were, with doubtful justification, more positive about the [nutritive] value…of convenience foods.” So, their idea of cooking was like microwaving a Pop-Tart®, whereas “women who cook [actually make] better food choices.”

As one author noted, last century, “we began the long process of turning over to the food industry many of the decisions about what we eat…Today, our staggering rates of obesity and diabetes are testimony to the faith we put in corporations to feed us well. But the food industry is a business, not a parent; it doesn’t care what we eat as long as we’re willing to pay for it. Home cooking these days has far more than sentimental value; it’s a survival skill.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to dno1967b via flickr

Doctor's Note

Check out your local public library for cookbooks—I’ve been amazed at the selection in all the cities where I’ve lived. Or, for those for which books are just so 20th century, the online Rouxbe Cooking School holds healthy cooking classes. Check them out: www.rouxbe.com/plant-based

More on fast food:

Some other unsavory bits about the food industry:

I think this is the only other mention of celebrity chefs I have:
Paula Deen: diabetes drug spokesperson

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