When are peanut-butter cookies and chocolate cake healthy? When you’re making them. Bust out a Bundt pan and cook up some perks…
1. Less stress
Measuring out ingredients or kneading dough forces you to concentrate.These mindful moments calm the brain’s emotional centre – and direct blood flow to its impulse control hub. Which means you’ll feel more chilled overall.
2. Boosted immunity
Eeek, you’ve burnt the base! When it happens, focus on the upside: Now you, too, can join the #PinterestFail sisterhood! Regularly flipping judge-y thoughts to more positive ones can lower stress hormone levels, which improves cell health and your body’s overall ability to fight off illness.
3. Enhanced cognition
Any way you bake it, mixing up Grandma’s muesli rusks provides great brain benefits. Stringently following a recipe strengthens your procedural memory (a form of long-term recall that allows you to do something you haven’t done in years – you know, the “it’s like riding a bike” cliché). But going rogue – and say, holding the raisins and adding dried cranberries – flexes your smarts and gives your strategic reasoning skills a workout.
4. A healthier heart
Moving from counter to fridge and back does not equal cardio for the day! But it does engage your muscles, which improves the way your body metabolises sugars and fats. Keep at it for two hours and you’ll net better blood-sugar levels – and, over time, significantly lower “bad” cholesterol. This, in turn, strengthens your ticker.
5. A longer life
Friends don’t let friends bake alone – at least not if they want to spend their golden years together. Battering up with a loved one can build strong bonds that tack years onto your life. Sharing the fruit(cake)s of your labour is even better: Generous acts lower inflammation levels, curbing your risk for chronic diseases like diabetes.
6. A slimmer bod
Isn’t it ironic? Indulging in home-made treats once a week buoys self-control, maintains a healthy-eating motivation (finally, a break from kale!) and prevents the “oh, what the hell” effect that leads to inhaling the whole tray. The key is planning the indulgence. Have one or two brownies warm out of the oven, then feed the rest to friends.
Sources: Dr Nicole M. Avena, author of Why Diets Fail; Dr Elisha Goldstein, author of Uncovering Happiness; Dr Timothy De Waal Malefyt, Fordham University; Dr Emma Seppälä, Stanford University School Of Medicine.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthsa.co.za
Image credit: iStock