TIME Research

A Diet High in Pesticides Is Linked to a Lower Sperm Count

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Strawberries and spinach are among the worst offenders

The troubling link between pesticide exposure and fertility isn’t new; scientists have already established that people who work with pesticides tend to have lower fertility than people who don’t. But for the majority of us who don’t work with chemicals, diet is the biggest source of exposure, says Jorge Chavarro, MD, assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health and senior author of a new study published in the journal Human Reproduction.

Chavarro and his colleagues wanted to see if pesticide residues left on fruits and vegetables might have a similar effect on sperm—and their findings suggest that they did. Men who ate fruits and vegetables with a lot of pesticides had lower sperm counts and more oddly shaped sperm than those who had lower levels of dietary pesticide exposure.

MORE: Not So Fertile Ground

Over an 18-month period, the researchers used data from the Environment and Reproductive Health (EARTH) study, including semen samples from 155 men who were being treated at a Boston fertility clinic and a food frequency questionnaire they completed. The researchers determined pesticide exposure by comparing the questionnaire answers with government data about produce pesticide levels in the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program.

The study didn’t tease out individual foods, but the researchers classified produce according to whether it had high or low-to-moderate levels of pesticides. Men who ate the most high-pesticide fruits and vegetables had a 49% lower total sperm count and 32% fewer sperm that were shaped normally, compared to men who ate the least amount of the high-pesticide produce.

Researchers gave each piece of produce a score based on its level of detectable pesticides, its level of pesticides that exceeded the tolerance level established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and whether the produce had three or more types of detectable pesticides. (The bigger the score, the more it hit all three measures.) Ranked from highest pesticide contamination to lowest, here were the top fruits and vegetables:

  • Green, yellow and red peppers (6)
  • Spinach (6)
  • Strawberries (6)
  • Celery (6)
  • Blueberries (5)
  • Potatoes (5)
  • Peaches and plums (5)
  • Apples or pears (5)
  • Winter squash (4)
  • Kale, mustard greens and chard greens (4)
  • Grapes and raisins (4)

The team didn’t tease out associations with individual pesticides. But they believe that a mixture of pesticides—not just one particular pesticide—is responsible for the link. The strongest variable in their analysis were the proportion of fruits and vegetables consumed that use three or more pesticides. “The more pesticides are applied on any particular crop, that seems to be having a bigger impact,” Chavarro says.

Chavarro says he still remains skeptical, and that one study isn’t enough to offer definitive proof. “As far as we are aware, this is the first time that something like this has been reported,” he says. “It will be very important to replicate these results in other studies.” But for people who are concerned about their dietary exposure to pesticides, there are ways to lower it, he says, like eating organic and choosing produce not listed on the Environmental Working Group’s dirty dozen list.

TIME Depression

How Pilots Are Screened for Depression and Suicide

While it’s not clear exactly why Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed into a French mountainside, the black box from the cockpit raises questions about whether mental health issues were involved, and how aviation officials identify and monitor the mental health of pilots.

Prosecutor Brice Robin said that the cockpit recordings suggest the lead pilot was locked out of the flight deck after leaving for the restroom, and that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz “voluntarily allowed the aircraft to lose altitude. He had no reason to do this. He had no reason to stop the captain coming back into the cockpit.” As investigators search for a second black box, experts are trying to piece together the reasons why Lubitz acted the way he did. His mental state remains a possible cause.

If the investigation reveals that mental health played a role, it wouldn’t be without precedent. In a 2014 study in the journal Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, researchers looked at 20 years of data for what they called “aircraft assisted suicide.” From 1993-2012, 24 of 7,244 plane crashes were thought to be deliberately caused by a pilot. That’s less than 1% of the total, but it’s still enough to raise questions about the mental health stressors of pilots.

“I really wish that we had some kind of deeper thinking about this issue, because it’s one of the most difficult in aviation medicine,” says Alpo Vuorio, MD, PhD, the study author and an aviation specialist in occupational medicine at the Mehiläinen Airport Health Centre in Finland. He screens pilots and cabin crew of commercial airlines for health issues—including mental health issues—and says he sees any given commercial pilot once a year for a short visit.

Commercial pilots have to pass a physical and mental evaluation every six months (for those over 40) or once a year (for those under 40) in order to be certified to fly a passenger plane. The emphasis, however, is on the physical and less on the mental, mainly because mental health is harder to quantify.

“You somehow try to see if the pilot is well, and it’s not the easiest thing,” Vuorio says. Pilots answer yes-or-no questions about their mental health, Vuorio says, like if they’ve ever tried to attempt suicide or visited a psychiatrist. “You speak yes or no, but it’s up to you, what you tell,” he says. Pilots can visit several different locations for these examinations, he says, and if they don’t occur in house, past data don’t appear on the screen.

And pilots aren’t likely to divulge any potential mental health problems, including signs of depression or anxiety, because that would take them out of the sky. “Pilots aren’t going to tell you anything, any more than a medical doctor would about their mental health,” says Scott Shappell, professor of the Human Factors Department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautics University who is a former pilot and crash scene investigator.

Pilots, like doctors and policemen and others with high-stress jobs, tend to be good at compartmentalizing — walling off difficult or emotional experiences so they don’t interfere with their ability to function day-to-day. Medical examiners who evaluate pilots for their recertification also aren’t always trained in mental health, so they may not recognize subtle signs of conditions such as depression or alcoholism.

According to Dr. William Sledge, medical director of the Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Hospital who has evaluated pilots for the Federal Aviation Administration, about 40% of pilots he saw were for alcohol related problems, and a third for depression or anxiety. Only about half of the latter group reported their problems themselves, however. The other half were referred to Sledge only after incidents required their superiors to intervene.

“The problem is there is no incentive” to report mental health issues, says Shappell. “They know that if they self report, the way the system is designed, it will be a black mark.”

In a statement, the FAA said: “Pilots must disclose all existing physical and psychological conditions and medications or face significant fines of up to $250,000 if they are found to have falsified information.”

In the case of mental health evaluations, pilots are taken off the flight schedule while they are treated or begin antidepressant medications. Until 2010, even these drugs were banned, and pilots required them could no longer fly.

When the U.S. Air Force began requiring annual suicide prevention and awareness training in 1995, including screening for mental illness, the suicide rate plummeted from about 16 suicides per 100,000 members to about 9.

Even for experts, however, judging whether a pilot is suicidal is one of the hardest parts of the job. That’s no surprise, since the struggles of spotting and talking about suicide plague our entire society, says Barbara Van Dahlen, a licensed clinical psychologist and the founder and president of Give an Hour, a network of volunteer therapists. “In our society we are so quick to try to make it ok, to say it will pass and to say suck it up,” she says. “We really don’t listen to ourselves and we don’t listen to others very effectively.”

But pilots and others in high-pressure occupations face several unique stressors, she says, like having a physically demanding job and being responsible for other lives. “In a lot of positions of authority and leadership, those people are supposed to be capable and on top of things,” she says. “They don’t have a lot of people to share with and talk to, to be less than perfect and less than OK. That adds to the stress.”

One study of suicides among general aviation pilots—civilians who aren’t leading scheduled commercial flights—published in the journal Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, looked at 21-years’ worth of general aviation accidents as reported by the National Transportation Safety Board between 1983-2003. During that time, 37 pilots either committed or attempted suicide by aircraft, and nearly all resulted in a fatality. 38% of the pilots had psychiatric problems, 40% of the suicides or attempts were linked to legal troubles, and almost half, 46%, were linked to domestic and social problems. 24% of the cases involved alcohol and 14% involved illicit drugs.

Having ready access to a plane also seemed to be a contributing factor, too; 24% of the crashed planes in the study were used illicitly.

Read next: German Pilots Cast Doubt on Blaming of Co-Pilot for Crash

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TIME Exercise/Fitness

How Men Can Protect Against Cancer

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Being fit is linked to a 68% lower risk of cardiovascular disease death

It’s no surprise that being physically fit helps protect against heart disease, but a person’s level of fitness might also have a profound effect on cancer outcomes long before a diagnosis. According to a new study in JAMA Oncology, men who were very fit in middle age were 32% less likely to die from cancer after being diagnosed after age 65 than men who weren’t fit in midlife.

“It’s pretty remarkable that a fitness estimate 10-15 years before your actual cancer diagnosis can predict how long you’re going to live after you develop cancer,” says Dr. Susan Lakoski, one of the study’s authors and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Vermont, Burlington.

In the study, which was part of the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study based out of the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas, Lakoski and her colleagues looked at fitness data, measured by a treadmill test, and cancer data—specifically prostate, lung and colorectal cancer—from about 14,000 men for 6.5 years. Men who were very fit at age 50 had a 55% lower risk of lung cancer and a 44% reduced risk of colorectal cancer compared to men who weren’t fit at 50.

MORE: You Asked: Is Running On A Treadmill As Good As Running Outside?

(The researchers did not see this association with prostate cancer. Though more research is need to figure out why, they hypothesize that it’s because men who are very physically fit tend to have better health behaviors like going to the doctor, which makes them more likely to be diagnosed than someone who doesn’t get screened as frequently as something like prostate cancer, which is common but often does not require treatment.)

The protective benefits of exercise didn’t stop there. Of the men who eventually were diagnosed with lung, prostate and colorectal cancer by age 65 or older, being very fit in midlife was associated with a 32% reduced risk of cancer-related death and a 68% lower risk of cardiovascular death compared to men who had low fitness in midlife.

Here’s the best part: it doesn’t take a lot of exercise to have a big health impact, Lakoski found. “Just a small improvement in fitness made a difference in survival of those that developed cancer,” she says. Compared to men who could run 12-minute miles on the treadmill at age 50, men who ran slightly faster 11.5-minute miles had an additional 10% decrease in cancer death and an extra 25% decrease in cardiovascular death among those who developed cancer in the study.

Lakoski hopes that clinicians will start using fitness measurements in their practices to help make preventive exercise plans for their patients. “We talk about personalized medicine a lot now in medicine when we think about genetics, but we don’t think about it in terms of healthy behaviors,” she says. Objective fitness measures are great ways to develop personalized exercise training regimens, she says, with real implications for lifespan. “It is a very robust marker of survival,” she says, “and we’re not using it enough in practice.”

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Should I Eat Canned Tuna?

3/5 experts say yes.

It’s not the sexiest fish in the sea. But tuna—even once it’s caught, frozen, thawed, cooked, chopped and canned—still gets a nod of approval from most of our experts. Still, some aren’t pulling out their can openers anytime soon.

First, though, some tuna praise. A typical five-ounce can of light tuna has 28 grams of protein, an impressive 56% of your daily requirement.

It’s also a great source of the heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. But all tuna is not tinned equally. In a study published in Public Health Nutrition, researchers analyzed canned tuna products in U.S. grocery stores. Tuna packed in water had higher EPA and DHA counts and lower omega 6: omega 3 ratios, compared to those packed in oil.

“I specifically recommend light canned tuna in water, which provides good omega-3 fatty acids,” says study author Asim Maqbool, MD, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Another plus: Light tuna isn’t as high in mercury as albacore tuna, Maqbool says—it packs about half the mercury of albacore.

Mercury is the primary concern in big fish like tuna. Pollution releases mercury into the air, and as it accumulates in the ocean, fish absorb it from the waters and their mercury stores build up, according to the FDA. When you eat certain kinds of fish—especially big, fatty fish like tuna—mercury can build up in your bloodstream over time, too.

Canned tuna has lower mercury levels than tuna steaks and sushi, and two canned tuna meals a week is a safe threshold, the FDA says. The agency is currently revising its guidelines about pregnancy and fish consumption; they hope to encourage more pregnant woman and children to eat fish for its many nutritional benefits. At 13 mcg per 4 ounces, light canned tuna lands in their “lower mercury” category, along with others like salmon (2 mcg of mercury for 4 ounces) and shrimp (less than 1 mcg per 4 ounces).

But Philippe Grandjean, MD, a toxin researcher and adjunct professor of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health, contends there’s no room for any kind of canned tuna in the diet. “Canned tuna contributes more than one-third of the mercury exposure of the average American,” he says. “About one in six women in coastal U.S. populations have elevated mercury exposures that could cause harm to the fetus.”

He urges people to eat salmon, mackerel and shrimp, which have considerably less mercury than tuna. That recommendation is echoed by Michael Gochfeld, MD, PhD, professor of environmental and occupational medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University. “Pregnant women should not eat canned white tuna and should limit canned light tuna,” he says. “They would be much better off choosing canned salmon instead, which is very low in mercury and much higher in beneficial omega 3s.”

Mercury isn’t the only contaminant of concern. The chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, is an endocrine disruptor often present in the linings of canned foods. “Especially in children, diet is the major source of BPA exposure, with the predominant source being canned food consumption,” says Leonardo Trasande, associate professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine at New York University School of Medicine, and author of several recent papers on the health costs of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Studies show that eating canned foods can increase BPA levels, while eating more fresh food can reduce it.

Switching to BPA-free cans might not offer enough protection, though. Alternative linings like oleoresin don’t have enough safety data behind them, Trasande says, and sometimes, the chemicals substituted may be worse than BPA. “Increasingly the synthetic chemical BPS is being used as a substitute for BPA, and studies suggest that BPS is as estrogenic and even more persistent in the environment,” he says. “BPS may therefore actually be more problematic from a health perspective.”

Still, the health benefits of canned tuna outweigh potential contaminant risks, says David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. “All studies comparing the inclusion versus the exclusion of fish show better health associated with the inclusion of fish in the diet,” he says. “Those contaminants are unfortunate—but that’s the reality in a world we haven’t treated all that well. Perfectly ‘pure’ food no longer exists on this planet.”

canned tuna
Illustration by Lon Tweeten for TIME

Read next: Should I Eat Shrimp?

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

The Dangers of Buying Breast Milk Online: Study

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Experts are urging women to avoid this dangerous market

In the DIY corner of the internet, buying, selling and trading breast milk is a booming online business—and that’s a dangerous thing, according to a new editorial in The BMJ.

A multidisciplinary team of researchers decided to investigate the practice whereby new mothers buy breast milk from strangers online and feed it to their infants. It’s a practice the researchers conclude is growing—and fastest in the U.S. Some women unable to breastfeed see it as a healthier alternative to formula, and online breast milk is often cheaper than the kind you find at a regulated milk bank, where the milk is screened, collected, pasteurized and stored according to strict protocol, the authors say.

MORE: I Bullied Myself Into Breastfeeding

But the online market for breast milk is almost entirely unregulated and it can put young children at risk. There are no requirements to test sellers for diseases that may transmit by drinking breast milk, like HIV and hepatitis B and C, the piece says. In one 2013 study, a different group of researchers discovered that 21% of milk samples bought online tested positive for cytomegalovirus, a type of herpes virus that spreads through secretions and can have a long-term impact on the immune system.

The health concerns extend beyond hidden viruses, the researchers point out. Another study found that of 101 breast milk samples bought online, 92 of them had detectable bacterial growth—partly because they weren’t pasteurized, and partly because a quarter of them shipped so poorly that they arrived unfrozen or damaged. And breast milk, like most other liquids for which people pay a premium, seems to be a magnet for fraud. Cow’s milk, water and even soy milk are sometimes added as adulterants to dilute breast milk and increase its volume, says editorial co-author Sarah Steele, lecturer at the Global Health, Policy and Innovation Unit at Queen Mary University London.

MORE: 2,500 Tons of the Food We Eat Is Fake

“As our research has revealed, 75% of mothers go online when they have an issue with infant feeding,” Steele says. “They resort to the internet to find out the information, usually because they’re embarrassed, or because they feel like they’re failing their infant, or because they’re exhausted.” But even though mothers are readily discovering this alternative feeding source, doctors aren’t talking about it, Steele says.

Infants aren’t the only ones drinking breast milk. Some bodybuilding websites tout it as a “natural superfood” for adults or a drink for “post-workout recovery,” Steele says—but the same risks for virus transmission apply.

In the piece, Steele and her co-authors call for more regulation of the industry. “Even healthcare professionals aren’t entirely aware of just how dangerous it is and just how many samples are contaminated,” she says. Despite these risks, “It’s not a small industry,” Steele says. According to her data, one milk-selling website, OnlyTheBreast.com, had 27,000 members last year and gains 700-800 each month.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

This Cooking Trick May Cut Rice Calories in Half

Rice
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Strangely enough, it involves adding fat

A cup of white rice has about 200 calories—not insignificant considering it’s most often used as a small part of a larger dish. But there’s an easy, natural way to make rice less caloric: add a little fat, then let it cool. According to research presented at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting, using coconut oil and a refrigerator can slash calories by as much as 60%.

MORE 20 Filling Foods That Help You Lose Weight

Rice is made up of both digestible and resistant starch. Humans don’t have the enzymes to digest that second type, so resistant starch isn’t transformed into sugar and absorbed in the bloodstream like digestible starch. The more resistant starch a food has, the fewer calories from that starch our bodies will absorb.

Researchers from the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka wanted to figure out if they could convert some of rice’s digestible starch into the non-digestible type, and thereby make it less caloric. By testing out 38 different kinds of rice and simulating human digestion in a test tube, they devised a recipe for the least caloric way to cook rice: drop a teaspoon of coconut oil into boiling water, then add half a cup of non-fortified white rice and cook it for about 40 minutes. After cooking, stick it in the fridge for 12 hours.

MORE 6 ‘Bad’ Carbs That Are Actually Good For You

Rice cooked this way had at least 10 times the resistant starch as normally prepared rice and 10-15% fewer calories. But researchers think that with certain kinds of rice, the method could cut calories by 50-60%.

Here’s how it works: the glucose units in hot cooked rice have a loose structure, but when it cools down, the molecules rearrange themselves into very tight bonds that are more resistant to digestion, says Pushaparaja Thavarajah, PhD, who supervised the study. Scientists already know that it works in potatoes, but in the new study, researchers thought that adding a fat like coconut oil could add extra protection. It seemed to. The fat molecule wedges its way into the rice, Thavarajah says, and provides a barrier against quick digestion.

Making rice starch more resistant has other perks besides cutting calories. It’ll also feed your good bacteria. “The resistant starch is a very good substrate, or energy source, for the bacteria inside the human gut,” says Thavarajah.

Best of all, the researchers found that reheating the rice didn’t change the levels of resistant starch—so the calorie hack is safe for leftovers, too.

Read next: 4 Ways to Eat More and Still Lose Weight

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TIME public health

5 Ways to Celebrate World Water Day

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A holiday for H2O

Sunday is World Water Day, a United Nations initiative to celebrate clean water and bring attention to those who don’t have enough of it. A new report released ahead of World Water Day warns about a looming shortage, and centers on this year’s theme: water and sustainable development.

Here are five ways to celebrate World Water Day

Learn about poop water

First charcoal juice becomes a thing, and now poop water? Hey, Bill Gates drinks it—thanks to a new machine called the Omniprocessor that literally transforms waste into water through a steam engine. On his blog, Gates writes about drinking a “delicious” fresh glass of it and marvels at the possibilities to improve sanitation in low-income countries. “The processor wouldn’t just keep human waste out of the drinking water; it would turn waste into a commodity with real value in the marketplace,” Gates writes.

Take a break from meat

Showering and hydration are hardly your main uses of water—but food is. The average American uses 7,500 liters of water each day, according to the U.N. If you’re eating meat, your water usage shoots way up; a steak dinner for two requires 15,000 liters of water for the meat alone. Eating more meat and dairy has been the single greatest factor for water consumption in the past 30 years, says the group—so going vegetarian, even temporarily, can make a difference.

Wash your hands the right way

Only 5% of Americans do, according to a study of men using public restrooms. (If you need a refresher on proper technique, you should use soap and water and wash for at least 15 seconds.) Sounds gross—and it is a public health hazard, according to UNICEF, organizers of Global Handwashing Day, another water-related holiday worth celebrating. “Handwashing with soap prevents disease in a more straightforward and cost-effective way than any single vaccine,” supporter UNICEF writes.

Support a future female farmer

Most of the world’s hungry are women, says the U.N.’s new report, and most don’t own land—or even have time to make an income, since 25% of their day is spent collecting drinking water. “With equal access to resources and knowledge, female farmers, who account for the majority of all subsistence farmers, could produce enough additional food to reduce the number of the world’s hungry by 150 million,” the report says. Investing in water and sanitation actually helps improve equality, which helps stimulate the economy—every dollar invested yields between $5-28, the UN estimates.

Give better water to the world

A new report from WaterAid America found that one in five babies born in the developing world dies during its first month of life because of a lack of clean water. And 35% of facilities in middle- and lower-income countries didn’t have water and soap for hand-washing, another report from the World Health Organization found.

John Green, author of The Fault In Our Stars, recently teamed up with Bill Gates to raise money for clean, safe water in Ethiopia. You can donate to water.org here.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Should I Eat Potatoes?

A surprising show of spud love

5/5 say yes.

Potatoes are the most consumed vegetable in America but that doesn’t stop throngs of tater haters, who malign them as starchy and fattening. Our panel of experts want to shine up spuds’ reputation.

“It is a pity that potatoes got a bad reputation for being fattening, because potatoes are a very nutritious, satiating and low-calorie food,” says Trudy Voortman, nutrition scientist at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands. And a 2014 study also found that potatoes don’t, in fact cause weight gain. “When prepared in a healthful manner there is no reason to not eat potatoes regularly,” says study author Britt Burton-Freeman, PhD, director of the Center for Nutrition Research at Illinois Institute of Technology.

That’s providing, of course, you don’t turn the potato into a French fry, a chip or a boat for bacon, butter and cream. “Yes to potatoes, but be careful of the company they keep,” says David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center.

Bare naked, a medium plain white potato has 36% of your daily vitamin C, 27% of your potassium and 14% of your fiber. “Spare yourself the work of peeling,” Voortman suggests, since the skins are extra nutritious. (No, these potato skins are not the same as the kind you see on a menu.)

Potatoes really are starchy, though, and they land high on the glycemic index—right up there with rice cakes and pretzels. That means they’ll raise your blood sugar and insulin levels quickly. Luckily, some scientists have devised clever potato hacks. Eat them with beans or lentils, which are high in fiber and slow the blood sugar spike, advises Dan Ramdath, PhD, a clinical research scientist at the Guelph Food Research Centre in Canada. He also suggests boiling them and leaving them overnight in the fridge; refrigeration is thought to make the spud’s starch more resistant, which our bodies digest slower.

Remember, there’s also a wide and colorful world of potatoes out there, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, registered dietitian and manager of wellness nutrition services at Cleveland Clinic. If your plate’s looking monochromatic, try some purple potatoes. “They may help in the prevention of certain cancers, and one study found that consumption of them could help in managing blood pressure in obese individuals without weight gain,” Kirkpatrick says.

We’re not promising they’ll make you skinnier, but we’ve got some newfound love for the spud.

Illustration by Lon Tweeten for TIME

Read next: Should I Drink Red Wine?

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

Can Watching Cooking Shows Lead to Weight Gain?

Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village Featuring MasterCard Grand Tasting Tents & KitchenAid® Culinary Demonstrations - 2015 Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival
Larry Marano—2015 Larry Marano Paula Deen attends the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village during the 2015 Food Network and Cooking Channel South Beach Wine and Food Festival on February 22, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Cooking is always healthier than not cooking—right? Not according to a new study published in the journal Appetite, which found that the more a woman prepared food she saw on a cooking show, the higher her BMI.

The researchers surveyed about 500 women, with an average age of 27, about their weight, height and cooking habits. Getting information from cooking shows and social media were both associated with a higher BMI.

MORE: The Truth About Home Cooking

Other studies have shown that merely watching someone else eat influences the way you eat—which is “the exact situation that may occur when people watch cooking shows on television,” the authors write. The study didn’t look at what foods the women actually consumed, mind you.

Other research suggests that the foods featured on TV aren’t always healthier than eating out. One study found that recipes by TV chefs in the U.K. had worse nutritional stats—more calories, more saturated fat and less fiber—than prepared food from supermarkets, which in and of itself is a pretty low bar for nutrition.

MORE: The Case Against Cooking

Scroll through your feed of Instagram dinner pics, and you’ll realize your friends aren’t helping, either. The authors speculate that social media was linked to BMI “because people may post their most indulgent “picture-perfect” recipes,” they write.

Need help deciding what to make for dinner? Check out the 50 healthiest foods of all time—nothing bacon-wrapped here, promise. Your BMI will thank you.

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