A new study covering over three decades found people who ate at least two home cooked meals a day in one week had 13 percent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which is a major contributing factor to the development of heart disease.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the researchers analyzed the records of approximately 58,000 women (Nurses' Health Study) and 41,000 men (Health Professionals Follow-up Study) who didn't have cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer prior to the study. The participants were followed-up for almost 26 years from 1986 to 2012.

Researchers found that participants who had 11 to 14 home cooked meals (lunch or dinner) in a week lowered their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 13 percent compared to participants who ate six home cooked meals or less. The findings focused on lunch and dinner, the researchers didn't have enough data to include breakfast meal routine in their 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. At the same time, Type 2 diabetes rates have also increased," said Dr. Geng Zong from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Mounting evidence from studies revealed the links between eating out in fast food chains and increased body weight and poorer diet quality in young adults and children. Home cooked meals contain less processed ingredients and unhealthy fats compared to their convenient, fast food counterparts.

In the analysis, the researchers proved that eating more home cooked meals helps in keep weight gain at bay in the span of eight years among middle-aged and senior participants who are in the health industry. Latest findings also suggest the possibility of fewer intakes of sugary sodas along with home cooked meals. Excess weight and obesity are two major factors in the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Preparing meals at home could be the first step in keeping type 2 diabetes at bay. However, for most people, home cooking isn't always an easy option. In such cases, researchers suggest to be mindful of what you eat outside of you home.

"Try not to choose fast food," said Zong who stressed that food companies should make an effort in making meals healthier, not just convenient. The study was presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2015.

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