We know, it’s so easy and convenient just to say…”let’s go out to eat tonight.” However, restaurant food is often loaded with saturated fat, salt, processed meats, refined-carbohydrates, and sugar, and not a good or healthy option, according to Consumer Reports (CR). Let’s look at some of health risks associated with unhealthy fats, or saturated fats typically found in restaurant, take-out, precooked meals, or precooked package foods (frozen), then you’ll have a better understanding and appreciation of the value of home cooking and the health benefits associated with it.
Number one in our Tips For Healthy Food is the human body needs some fats from food for bodily functions and remain healthy, but those fats should be “polyunsaturated”, or “monounsaturated fats”, and contain “omega 3 fatty acids”, which is what we recommend, and so does Harvard Medical School in this study.
These healthy lean fats are only found in lean, organic, nutrient-dense grass-fed finished or free-range meats, wild-caught-fish (not farm-raised), extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil, organic fruits and vegetables, and raw nuts. According to American Heart association, saturated fats raise the level of cholesterol in your blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. A 2017 Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism study reviewed by the National Institutes Of Health (NIH), had this to say about saturated fats,
In conclusion, strong evidence supports the partial replacement of SAFA-rich foods (saturated-fats) with those rich in cis-PUFA (polyunsaturated-fats) to lower LDL-C (cholesterol)and reduce CHD (coronary heart disease) risk.
Here is one more 2016 Diabetes Spectrum study reviewed by the NIH, confirming the health benefits of replacing saturated fats with mono-unsaturated fats (MUFA), which reduces the risk of cardiovascular events or mortality, and stroke. Yet, another 2016 JAMA Internal Medicine study reviewed by the NIH study revealed the incredible health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids.
Now, let’s take a quick look at sugar. Per a 2013 Endocrinol Investment study reviewed by the NIH, consuming too much added sugar, especially from sugary beverages (sodas), increases your risk of weight gain and can lead to gaining weight, resulting in fat accumulation, resulting in condition like diabetes and heart disease.
This NIH “High Blood Triglycerides” study linked sugary food and drink to obesity, inflammation and high triglycerides, blood sugar and blood pressure levels, which are all risk factors for heart disease. The NIH at it again, with this 2013 International Journal of Cancer study involving over 430,000 people, which found that added sugar consumption was positively associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer, pleural cancer and cancer of the small intestine. Do you want one more?
According to a 2014 PLOS|ONE study reviewed by the NIH, consuming a lot of processed foods, including high-sugar products such as cakes and sugary drinks, has been associated with a higher risk of depression. Processed meats such as salami, cured bacon, ham, hot dogs, have been preserved by curing, smoking, salting, and drying, and generally not healthy.
In one Nutrition Research study processed, or cured meat was linked to hypertension. In a 2013 BMC study reviewed by the NIH, it was determined there was an association between processed meats and mortality, not only by cardiovascular disease but also cancer. Another 2007 American Journal Respiratory Critical Care Medicine (NIH) study showed a possible link between processed meat and COPD. Here is what NIH had to say:
Frequent cured meat consumption was associated independently with an obstructive pattern of lung function and increased odds of COPD.
Coking at home benefits you and your family health-wise, and is a much better option. Consuming this sort of unhealthy foods on a regular basis can do serious damage to your body, especially if you do it over of many years. Eating it sparingly won’t do much to harm your body, but this is true if only done occassionally, like once a week.
Even adding takeout to your body once a week can do some unhealthy things. You are not doing much good for your health by eating take-out at home. It’s the quality of the food, not where you’re eating it. According to a 2013 Nutrition Journal study reviewed by the NIH, people are eating at home more but not cooking more. They said…
Efforts to boost the healthfulness of the US diet should focus on promoting the preparation of healthy foods at home while incorporating limits on time available for cooking.
Eating frozen precooked packed foods from groceries isn’t any better either.
If you eat out 3 times a day for an entire year, as many Americans do, that’s 1,095 unhealthy meals a year. You’d be loading up on excessive amounts of bad fat, salt, and sugar every time you eat! That’s way to many times to do something over the course of one year that’s really unhealthy for you and your family.
And guess where America ranks in being the fattiest population in the 192 countries in the world? According to the WorldAtlas website, would you believe 12th? While a majority of other 11 countries that top the list ahead of the U.S., are small and sparsely populated countries, Mexico and the US, with large population continue to top the list in recent years over larger populated countries.
Is there any wonder there’s an obesity epidemic in America? Over 50 percent of American adults today are overweight or obese. Wikipedia statistics show that obesity rate in America tripled since 1960. In 1962, 13 percent of Americans were considered obese, by 2015-2016, obesity had risen to 39.6 percent of the total population. Quoting Wikipedia:
Obesity is one of the leading health issues in the United States, resulting in about 300,000 excess deaths per year.
More than 20 percent of children ages 6 to 11 are considered obese, as are 18 percent to 20 percent of teens ages 12 to 19. According to a study published in the New England Journal Of Medicine, United States had the highest rate of childhood obesity in the world at nearly 13 percent.
The study also found that 2.2 billion people around the world, about a third of the planet’s population, are estimated to be overweight. And 10 percent of the global population is considered obese.
Doctors define being overweight as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9; and obesity is having a BMI of 30 or greater. On average, Americans are consuming more calories today than they did thirty years ago. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and reviewed by the Verdant Health Commission, men consumed 2,450 calories a day in 1971, and women consumed 1,542. In 2000, the numbers were 2,618 for men and 1,877 for women.
Americans are eating more foods prepared away from home than ever before and that number is growing each and every day. In 1977 to 1978, people got about 18 to 20 percent of their daily calories from these kinds of unhealthy foods; namely fast foods, restaurant takeout, fried foods, pizza, precooked meals, and precooked frozen foods.
In 1995, according to the USDA survey, away-from-home food consumption percentage had risen to around 32 percent. An increase of almost 100 percent! Enjoying indulgent food is okay occasionally, but cooking and eating at home will help you learn to appreciate better and healthier food, especially if you consciously choose healthy ingredients to make healthier meals.
Eating at home allows you to control your portion sizes as well. If you have a meal at home, you can start small and then have a little more if you are still hungry. At a restaurant, you are limited to what’s on your plate, which is usually over-filled to give the appearance of value, and you may feel the need to eat everything on your plate because it’s right there in front of you.
As confirmed in this Harvard Medical School study “Food and Diet”, most successful diets are simply portioned-control diets, where you usually eat less which means less calories resulting in less weight-gain. Eating out in restaurants or in fast food places, or even eating prepacked foods, increases the risk of contracting food-borne illness or other serious health issues. According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), one in six Americans contract a food-borne illness each year! Alarmingly, approximately 3 thousand of those who contract food-borne illness actually get really ill and die.
By cooking at home, you can eliminate that risk because the food you select is typically fresher, appropriately stored, and cooked properly. Another concern is food allergies and intolerances because, according to the American College of Asthma Allergy and Immunology research, serious consequences can develop such as “anaphylaxis”, a severe life-threatening reaction.
Some people are severely allergic to certain ingredients, so that’s also a concern for some. If you insist on eating out, the most frequent preventive strategy was speaking to a waiter on arrival and ordering food with simple ingredients . Restaurants don’t know what you’re allergic too, nor do they really care, so you have to make them aware of your situation, found the research.
Home Cooking Much Healthier
A study published earlier this year in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people scored better on the Healthy Eating Index when they cooked at home. The obesity study, by researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Washington, reviewed by the NIH, looked at a week’s worth of cooking and eating habits among more than 430 adults in the Seattle area, according to an Oregon State publication. In households where residents cooked at home 3 times per week, the average score on the Healthy Eating Index was about 67, which is good.
For those who cooked at home 6 times per week, the average score rose to about 74. Scores on the index range from zero to a perfect score of 100. A score over 81 indicates a good eating practice 51 to 80 signifies the diet was bordering on unhealthy and needed improvement and 50 or lower was considered unhealthy. The study found that home-cooked dinners were associated with a “greater dietary compliance.”
The differences were significant, even with a relatively small study sample,
said Drewnowski about the study, a professor of epidemiology at University Of Washington.
Home Cooking Reduces Calories Intake
When people frequently prepare meals at home, they consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less saturated fat, and fewer calories, than those who cook at home irregularly or not at all, according to a study published in 2014 in the journal Public Health Nutrition (ScienceDaily).
In examining four years of data from a national health and nutrition survey, researchers discovered that on an average day, the 8 percent of adults who cooked dinner once a week or never cooked dinner consumed 2,301 calories, 84 grams of fat and 135 grams of sugar, which were all above ideal levels.
That’s according to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Meanwhile, the nearly 50 percent of adults who cooked dinner six to seven times a week consumed 2,164 calories, 81 grams of fat and 119 grams of sugar on a typical day, according to the study. That’s still high, but it’s better than the group who hardly cooked at home.
Be Healthy and Save Money
The Cheapism Blog survey
the blog says. Some restaurants offer family meal options at a discount. Based on those deals, the average cost for a four-person meal, including tip, is $56 and change. The cost to make four full meals at home, at $6.41 per meal, is still less than half the cost of eating out: $25.64, or $32.04 when factoring in food waste of $8.01 per meal. From 2014 to 2015, the amount of money that Americans spent on food at home inched up by 1.1 percent, according to the U.S. Labor Bureau Statistics.
During the same period, however, the amount of money Americans shelled out for food away from home jumped by 7.9 percent. So there appears to be a disconnect between cost and convenience. According to Forbes Magazine research, it’s 5 times more expensive to order delivery from a restaurant than to cook at home. Average cost for ordering a meal from a restaurant was $20.37, and a home-cooked meal was $4.31.
According to the U.S. Department Of Labor, the price of groceries has gone up by approximately 0.3 percent, which believe it or not, is incredibly unusual due to the fact that grocery prices usually rise at a higher rate annually.Alternatively, the same study showed that restaurant prices have risen a whopping 0.5 percent since 2015. It’s clear that if you want to save yourself money, eating at home is the way to go.
Have Some Fun
Cooking your own food is a very important part of Tips For Healthy Food. Beyond preparing healthy food, cooking is definitely the activity that will help us get rid of the tension or the stress built up of the day. In fact, this goes beyond just your stress issue. Studies such as a 2018 Health Education Behavior study reviewed by the NIH have shown that cooking can really be a therapeutic activity finding that cooking interventions may positively influence psychosocial outcomes, although this evidence is preliminary and limited.
Further qualitative and rigorous quantitative research are needed to identify mechanisms by which cooking interventions may improve psychosocial outcomes.
Even just making a simple salad or something as simple, has shown to improve an individual’s mindset because you have to be mindful. The reason is also simple, when you cook, you stimulate your senses because you’re are actively involved in producing something beneficial, and your sense of accomplishment, is irreplaceable.
One of many benefits of home cooking is it boosts your self-esteem, and even lower your anxiety, or even depression! In fact, one study sighted in the Wall Street Journal, how therapists have successfully used cooking to treat depression, anxiety and other psychological problems.
Many cooks know what a sanctuary the kitchen can be. Now “culinary therapy” is the treatment du jour at a growing number of mental health clinics and therapists’ offices like the Newport Academy Residential Recovery Program for teens and young adults.
It’s being used as part of the treatment for a wide range of mental and behavioral health conditions, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, ADHD and addiction. When cooking, an individual can really focus their mind on something more positive and actually fun by using executive functions, which test our ability to organize, prioritize, sustain focus, solve problems, retrieve memories and multitask, found one Cleveland Clinic study .
says Jeffrey Cummings, MD, ScD, Director of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
This familiar activity exercises the brain, provides the nutrition our bodies crave and encourages social interaction, all of which are critical to preserving cognitive fitness.
This whole process of home cooking helps to curb negative thinking and boost self-confidence. Then there’s the feel of the new flour you bought at the market, or the smell of those fresh strawberries, or maybe the sound of the whisk beating.
All those things can stimulate your senses, which contributes to the release of more endorphins or oxytocins, those feel good hormones that put a smile on your face, according to a 2014 Frontiers Psychology reviewed by the NIH. Oxytocin released in the brain in response to sensory stimulation as a consequence of these types of interactive behaviors, contributes to every day wellbeing and ability to handle stress. Another 2018 Health Education Behavior study reviewed by the NIH study weighed in on finding benefits to cooking that extend beyond nutritional value, may be helpful in increasing motivation and frequency of cooking.
This review suggests that cooking interventions may positively influence psychosocial outcomes, although this evidence is preliminary and limited. Further qualitative and rigorous quantitative research are needed to identify mechanisms by which cooking interventions may improve psychosocial benefits of cooking.
How about savoring your food? That too will bring on the endorphins, as related in this ScienceDirect study! The physical act of preparing your own meals will lead to a newfound appreciation for the food you consume.
This is very important since mindless munching and emotional eating can contribute to poor digestion and unhealthy weight gain because you’re not fully conscious of the foods you’re eating according to a Mayo Clinic study. Which, quoting the study, said,
Emotional eating is eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness. Major life events or, more commonly, the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional eating and disrupt your weight-loss efforts leading to poor health.
You will be more aware of what you consume when you preparing it yourself which will make you more “mindful” or attentive and less likely to overeat or eat too much in a hurry and have stomach issues.
Family meals have proven to be perfect opportunities for parents to expose children to different foods and expand their tastes like a 2003 European Journal of Clinical Nutrition study where children were offered sweet red pepper and asked to rate how much they liked it and they were invited to eat as much of the pepper as they wanted. By the end of the experiment, the children rated the pepper more highly and were eating more of it.
Your Creativity Will Flow
Once you gain that confidence and you will, you will be able to let your creativity take over and start experimenting, which is good for your mental state especially if you have been feeling down. The Smithsonian online in a article “Feeling Down?
Cooking and baking could make you feel better, discussed the the mental health benefits of cooking and being creative. The thing is, after you’ve been cooking good food for a few months, you’ll begin to get the hang of it, because you will have learned by trial and error, the best ways to do things and use different cooking methods.
It’s at this point that you can start to explore cooking on your own and come up with your recipes and dishes and let your creativity juices flow. You do know that being creative is good for the mental state? According to various studies like this 2011 Mens Sana Monographs (NIH) study engaging in creative activities helps the mentally ill to recover from illness.
Another Gerontology study reviewed by the NIH found that being creative like cooking can be very effective therapy with older people experiencing dementia. Eventually, you’ll be making dishes that have specific tastes that your family look forward to eating, and that only you are able to make, and you’ll even become famous in your family.
And, if not famous, at least popular! This will without a doubt keep your family coming back for more, which will make you happy, and they’ll be much healthier for it.
Better Quality Family Time
Family dynamics can greatly improve with more at home, family meal times. Children greatly benefit from the ritual of preparing and eating meals together. This is also a great teaching tool for parents to instill healthy eating habits in their children.
In fact, according to a ScienceDaily study suggested that eating family meals together is great for kids and said,
Children who routinely eat their meals together with their family are more likely to experience long-term physical and mental health benefits, a new Canadian study shows.
Eating as a family at the dinner table is associated with fewer psychological issues and higher academic success in children and promoted sociability in family. In a recent Columbia University study, 71 percent of teenagers said they consider talking, catching-up, and spending time with family members as the best part of family dinners.
Your children will imitate your cooking and eating habits and possibly form lifelong habits related to their own nutrition and health. When you cook and eat together as a family (1), you can control what your children eat more fully, too. And, what better way is there to get your children off on the right foot, by learning how to cook, which will lead to a life of health and well being?
A very important part of Tips For Healthy Food is you can control the quality. When you order at a restaurant, you receive the quality that the establishment sets and how talented their chef and cooks are. When you cook at home, however, you enjoy the quality you feel you and your family deserve. If you want to buy organic products, grass fed or free-range meats, or reduce the amount of preservatives you eat, it is easier to do so because you choose the ingredients.
Research such as this 2017 International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (NIH) study has shown that frequently preparing, cooking, and eating meals at home isis associated with better dietary quality and lower adiposity. A 2000 Archives of Family Medicine survey found that the 9 to 14-year-olds who ate dinner with their families most frequently consumed more fruits and vegetables and less soda and fried foods. Their diets also had higher amounts of many key nutrients, like calcium, iron, and fiber.
At home, you can decide how your food will be prepared to preserve maximum nutrition, by choosing the healthiest nutritious foods, reducing unhealthy salt and sugars, and saturated fats. For example, you can avoid overcooking your food so it retains more of its nutritional content.
According to a response to a question on a ResearchGate Review concerning how cooking effects the nutritional value of foods, research has shown high-heat cooking degrades food around 30 to 40 percent of it’s nutrition and to assure lower loss of nutrition, foods should be cooked at lower heat for a longer period of time. Actually, slow low-heat cooking improves nutritional value of legumes, meats, fish, grains and cereals, and veggies. You can choose to steam or grill rather than fry foods, helping you reduce fat and preserve more of the nutritional value of the food you eat. Steaming is one of the best cooking methods for preserving nutrients, including water-soluble vitamins, which are sensitive to heat and water, found a 2009 Journal Zhejiang University study reviewed by the NIH.
Heat damages vitamins E and C plus most of the B-complex vitamins, except for riboflavin and niacin. Cooking in fat can reduce vitamin A, D, and E. As an example, according to 2010 Journal of Food Science and Technology study reviewed by the NIH, boiling fish (tuna) was shown to preserve omega-3 fatty acid content significantly more than frying or microwaving. Frying tuna has been shown to degrade its omega-3 content by up to 70–85 percent, while baking causes only minimal losses, determined a 2013 Food Science Technology study reviewed by the NIH.
There are also concerns about polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are potentially cancer-causing substances that form when meat is grilled and fat drips onto a hot surface. However, researchers, like this 2016 Food Chemistry study reviewed by the NIH, have found that PAHs can be decreased by 41–89 percent if drippings are removed and smoke is minimized. Short cooking times and reduced exposure to heat preserve the nutrients in microwaved food, found a Critical Review Food Science Nutrition (NIH) study.
Quality Nutrient-Rich Foods To Cook At Home
Certified Organic, Lean Grass-Fed Finished Meats. Certified organic grass-fed finished meats (A) such as beef, lamb, and bison, means these food animals are grazing on natural grass and plants for their entire lives that have grown in totally organic soil. That means the food animals have NOT been fed corn or grains high in unhealthy saturated fat (omega 6s), and the soil and the plants or grasses the food animals eat were grown in, have not been treated with synthetic fertilizers, chemical additives, antibiotics, or the food animals given antibiotics, making the food animals much healthier.
We can’t stress this enough, the fact that food animals are not given corn or grains as food, antibiotics or hormones, making it not only healthy and nutrient-rich meats, but also safer for human consumption than the meats from animals that grazed on chemically-fertilized fields and pastures.
Wild game, such as deer (venison), or elk, or rabbit, are good choices too, because there’re lean and nature-fed on grass and plants, as well, according to CNN Health Expert.
Certified Organic, Lean Free-Range Finished Poultry. (A-see grass-fed finished link) Certified organic chicken, turkey, and duck, means they are also grazing on grass, plants, and eating insects, in soils that have not been treated with chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Nor are they given corn or grains as food, antibiotics or hormones, making their meats safe for human consumption. Wild game is also lean and healthy and should include, wild turkey, quail, grouse, dove, and other game birds.
Certified Organic, Grass-Fed, Or Cage-Free, Finished, Brown Chicken Eggs. (A-see grass-fed finished meats link) Laying hens are given free-rain to roam grassy pastures and forage for their own food, making them leaner and healthier.
Certified Organic, Grass-Fed, Finished, Dairy. (A-see grass-fed finished meats link) Milk cows producing milk, butter, and cheese products, are allowed to graze freely in organic grassy pastures for their own foods, making them leaner and healthier, as well.
Wild-Caught, or Cold-Water Fish and Seafood. Wild-caught fish and seafood (A) do not contain GMOs, artificial coloring, hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides that you find in farm-raised fish and seafood. Alarmingly, farm-raised fish account for 80 percent of the fish consumed by Americans. The wild-caught fish we promote, such as salmon, tuna, halibut, sturgeon, sable fish (black cod), petrale sole, mackerel, herring, pink shrimp, sea scallops, and others, are caught wild by the “hook-and-line” old fashion way, preventing the destruction of other fish species, “accidently” caught in nets.
Fresh, Certified Organic, non-GMO, Nutrient-Dense Fruits and Vegetables. The best option is to grow your own nutrient-dense fruits, veggies, raw nuts, and edible flower seeds (A) in your own backyard garden. If that not an option, buy from a reliable organic farmer or specialty market, or through the link provided here.
Nutrient-dense means high in micro-nutrients and phytonutrients, of omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, the full-range of vitamins and minerals, including trace minerals, and fiber and vegetable protein.
Fresh, Certified Organic, Non-GMO, Nutrient-Dense Nuts and Seeds. (A-see link under fruits and veggies) The best option is to grow your own nutrient-dense nuts and seeds. Refer to the health benefits listed under fruits and vegetables.
Best nutrient-rich sources are walnuts, pecans, hazel, nuts, almonds, pistachios, and cashews. Best nutrient-dense seeds are sunflower, hemp, chia, flax, mustard, pumpkin, and sesame.
Fresh, Certified Organic, Antioxidant-Rich Herbs and Spices.
Here is where you can make a huge impact by cooking at home and being creatives with herbs and spices (A). Not only are they very healthy in antioxidants, but also provide great flavors and the right “kick” for foods as well. Your most nutrient-rich antioxidant herbs and spices are extra virgin olive oil, cloves, cilantro, basil, rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, sage, and cocoa (dark chocolate), ginger, coffee (espresso), and cayenne pepper.
Certified Organic, Non-GMO, Nutrient-Dense Whole Grains and Complex Carbs. Whole grains (A) are simply grains that have the bran, the germ and the endosperm intact because they have not been processed. They’re typically nutrient-dense, high in anioxidants, phytochemicals, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, B vitamins and dietary fiber. Best nutrient-dense sources are whole wheat, whole or rolled oats, whole-grain rye, buckwheat, bulgur (cracked wheat), millet, whole barley, and spelt.
Certified Organic, Non-GMO,Nutrient-Dense Natural Fermented Foods. (A) Fermented foods are known as “cultured foods” because they provide probiotic bacteria for good digestion.
Best probiotic fermented foods are kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, kimchi, tempeh, beer, fermented pickles, red wine, homemade beer, and apple cider vinegar.
We leave you with some funny quotable “quotes”:
A messy KITCHEN is a sign of happiness.
Why yes, I’ve discovered the JOY of cooking. It’s when my husband does it.
I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.
– W.C Fields
No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.
– Julia Child
FOOD is essential to LIFE; Therefore MAKE IT GOOD.
Follow the affiliate links provided (A) which will provide references and documentation on these foods healthy benefits. You will also be able to purchase these nutrient-dense foods listed from reputable sources through links. Are you ready to implement what you’ve learned in the Tips For Healthy Food which will benefit you and your family? We are interested in your comments and questions. Thank you.
(1) Maranda Video