Cook at Home, but Make Sure It’s Healthy Food

If there’s one thing most Americans know by now is that we should be eating fewer fast food meals. We may not always observe that recommendation, but we at least know it’s the case. We know food we cook at home is typically the healthiest option, but not so fast says a recent study.

“[T]he more time middle-aged women spent cooking at home, the more likely they were to suffer from metabolic syndrome, putting them at risk for heart disease and diabetes,” NPR reports on the study out of Rush University in Chicago.

The study’s findings were published in the journal Preventive Medicine, and analyzed data from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), which looked at health data on more than 2,000 women between ages 42-52 over the course of 15 years.

The researchers looked at habits of the women who said they cook at home frequently and markers for metabolic syndrome, “things like glucose levels, abdominal obesity, triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and hypertension,” NPR explains. “Having at least three of these markers qualifies a person as having metabolic syndrome.”

What the results noted was that women increased their odds of developing metabolic syndrome over time as they aged and the increase was faster for women who said they spent more time in the kitchen.

“One reason why cooking at home might be linked to disease in middle-aged women?” NPR asks, noting that the researchers point to baked goods that technically qualify as cooking at home if it’s coming out of your own oven.

“While the results are intriguing, they have limits,” NPR notes. “The data on cooking for SWAN hinge on that single self-reported question. And that question gleans nothing about what they cooked.” And the researchers observed that women who were already high risks for heart disease and diabetes may have also been more motivated to cook at home for health reasons.

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