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Studies show cooking provides long term health benefits

By: Marly Schuman

Cooking does more than just save money, many experts say. Not only does cooking at home bring families together, but it also can vastly improve your health.

According to USA Today, people consume 50% more fat, sodium and calories when they eat out in restaurants. This is because the more you eat in, the more you have control over what you eat. Eating at home allows you to control your portion size and also lets you choose how much fat or oil you put into your food. If you eat in your own kitchen, you can make appropriately sized dishes with ingredients you actually like. You can cook with more fruits, vegetables and protein and use less heavy, creamy sauces.

Overeating from restaurants also leads to obesity which can cause certain types of cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute. In fact, experts believe that 1/3 of cancers are related to diet. This is why it is important to follow a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These three food groups are often lacking in restaurants. A lack of healthy foods can lead to infectious diseases as well if you do not receive the appropriate vitamins and nutrients. Some even say that cooking for a sick person is an act that makes him or her feel better, while cooking for someone else can soothe your own body or mind.

Cooking itself is a relaxing activity. It can be a great way to wind down from a stressful work day, and an especially effective activity in bringing family together . Kids can help setting the table or preparing the meal. If they feel that they were a part of putting the meal together, they are often more likely to want to eat the healthy meal. Cooking on the grill also brings together friends and family in the summertime. It even gets men involved in cooking. Grilling is an easy and fast way to make a healthy dinner during the week.

Family meal-time is crucial for kids. Statistics show that about 1/3 of the meals American children eat are from fast food restaurants. A 2008 study from the Center for Science in the Public Interest reveals that out of 13 fast food chains, 93% have too many calories in their kids meals. Kids who eat with their family are also more active, watch less television and are more healthy overall.

Above all, in these economic times it pays to eat at home. The cost of just a few meals out equals the price of groceries for an entire week of cooking.

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