Time to ditch the takeaways? Regularly eating meals prepared away from home can increase your risk of heart disease and early DEATH

Many of us have been relying on takeaways during lockdown, but a new study suggests we might want to opt for home-cooked meals more often.  

Frequently eating food prepared away from the home – either in a restaurant or in the form of a takeaway – increases the risk of heart disease and cancer, experts say. 

The US study authors, from the University of Iowa, say the increased risk comes from eating two meals or more per day, which is a pretty hefty amount. 

But the study has implications for people who have increasingly found themselves picking up their phone to place orders on apps like Deliveroo and Just Eat.  

Meals prepared away from home tend to be higher in energy density, fat and salt but lower in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dietary fibre and antioxidants. 

Although some restaurants provide high-quality foods, the dietary quality for meals away from home, especially from fast-food chains, is usually lower compared with meals cooked at home
Evidence has shown that meals away from home tend to be higher in energy density, fat, and sodium, but lower in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protective nutrients such as dietary fibre and antioxidants 

Participants who ate two meals or more meals per day meals prepared away from home had a 1.49 times greater risk of death of any kind. 

For all results, the team adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, dietary and lifestyle factors, and body mass index (BMI). 

‘This is one of the first studies to quantify the association between eating out and mortality,’ said Dr Bao. 

‘Our findings, in line with previous studies, support that eating out frequently is associated with adverse health consequences and may inform future dietary guidelines to recommend reducing consumption of meals prepared away from home.

‘The take-home message is that frequent consumption of meals prepared away from home may not be a healthy habit. 

‘Instead, people should be encouraged to consider preparing more meals at home.’

Future studies are needed to look more closely at the link between eating out and death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, and other chronic diseases.

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