Here's Why You Might Want To Eat Out Less Often

Do you find yourself dining out at restaurants to avoid cooking at home, or as a time-saver? You're not alone — Americans typically eat out at restaurants an average of 4.9 times a week (via Zagat). But you may want to ditch the take-out boxes and start meal-prepping, as researchers say dining out too often can actually shorten your life.

A new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that out of 35,084 adults over the age of 20, people who ate two or more meals a day away from home were 49 percent more likely to die of any cause, as well as having a 67 percent higher risk of dying of cancer, and higher odds of death from heart disease. The data was compared to people who only ate one meal or less a week away from home (via U.S. News & World Report).

Dine out at restaurants with these healthy tips

The study was conducted from 1999 to 2014 with in-person interviews, using data from government surveys, and death records through 2015. Researchers recorded 2,781 deaths overall in the study, which included 511 from cardiovascular disease and 638 from cancer, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Researchers say more investigation is needed to directly link eating out at restaurants as the cause of death, as this is one of the first studies associating dining out and mortality. However, lead investigator Wei Bao, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Iowa, said in a news release, "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."

So what can you do if you don't have a choice but to dine out instead of preparing food at home? Experts suggest trying to select a restaurant with healthy options and eating your meal slowly, keeping other meals light for the rest of the day, and combining physical activity with your meal out by walking to the restaurant, if possible (via Eat Right).