If you eat more meals prepared at home, you may reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015.
People who ate about two homemade lunches or dinners each day — or about 11-14 meals a week — had a 13 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to people who ate less than six homemade lunches or dinners a week. Type 2 diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Researchers didn’t have enough information to include breakfast patterns. They analyzed data from nearly 58,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and more than 41,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and followed for up to 36 years (1986-2012).
None of the participants had diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer at the beginning of the study.
“The trend for eating commercially prepared meals in restaurants or as take-out in the United States has increased significantly over the last 50 years,” said Geng Zong, Ph.D., a research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. “At the same time, Type 2 diabetes rates have also increased.”
Accumulating studies have suggested that eating out, especially in fast food chain restaurants, is associated with lower diet quality and higher body weight in children and young adults. In the current study, the researchers demonstrated that eating homemade meals was associated with less weight gain over eight years in these middle-aged and older health professionals. Overweight and obesity are risk factors for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
While researchers don’t provide a specific number of homemade meals people should eat each week, Zong said “more could be better.”