Lung health is important to feel better. However, frequent factors such as exposure to cigarette smoke and environmental toxins as well as an inflammatory diet can influence this important pair of organs.
In addition, common conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pulmonary fibrosis can dramatically affect your quality of life.
However, research has shown that lifestyle changes, including a nutritious diet, can help protect your lungs and even reduce lung damage and disease symptoms.
In addition, specific nutrients and foods were identified that are particularly beneficial for lung function.
Here are 20 foods that can help improve lung function.
1. Beets and Beet Greens
The light-colored beetroot and the green contain compounds that optimize lung function.
Beets and beets are rich in nitrates, which have been shown to be beneficial for lung function. Nitrates help to relax the blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and optimize oxygen uptake.
Beet supplements have been shown to improve physical performance and lung function in people with lung disease, including COPD and pulmonary hypertension, a condition that causes high blood pressure in the lungs.
In addition, beet leaves are filled with magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and carotenoid antioxidants, all of which are essential for lung health.
Pepper is one of the richest sources of vitamin C, a water-soluble nutrient that acts as a powerful antioxidant in your body. Getting enough vitamin C is especially important for those who smoke.
Because of the harmful effects of cigarette smoke on your body’s antioxidant stores, people who smoke are advised to consume an additional 35 mg of vitamin C per day.
However, many studies show that smokers can benefit from higher doses of vitamin C and smokers with high vitamin C intake have better lung function than smokers with lower vitamin C intake.
Eating a single medium-sized red pepper (119 grams) provides 169% of the recommended intake of vitamin C.
Research has shown that eating apples regularly can promote lung function.
Studies show, for example, that apple consumption in former smokers is associated with a slower decline in lung function. In addition, eating five or more apples a week is associated with increased lung function and a lower risk of developing COPD.
Apples have also been linked to a lower risk of asthma and lung cancer. This may be due to the high concentration of antioxidants in apples, including flavonoids and vitamin C.
The colorful pumpkin meat contains a variety of plant substances that support lung health. They are particularly rich in carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, all of which have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies show that higher levels of carotenoids in the blood are associated with better lung function in older and younger populations.
People who smoke can benefit significantly from consuming more foods that are rich in carotenoids like pumpkin.
There is evidence that smokers may have 25% lower levels of carotenoid antioxidants than non-smokers, which can affect lung health.
Turmeric is often used to support general health due to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, can be particularly beneficial in supporting lung function.
A study of 2,478 people found that curcumin use is associated with better lung function. In addition, the lung function of smokers with the highest curcumin intake was significantly higher than that of smokers with low curcumin intake.
In fact, high curcumin intake in smokers was associated with 9.2% higher lung function than smokers who did not consume curcumin.
6. Tomato and Tomato Products
Tomatoes and tomato products are among the richest food sources for lycopene, a carotenoid antioxidant that is linked to improved lung health.
Eating tomato products has been shown to reduce airway inflammation in people with asthma and improve lung function in people with COPD.
A 2019 study of 105 asthmatics found that a tomato-rich diet was associated with a lower prevalence of poorly controlled asthma. In addition, the consumption of tomatoes in former smokers is also associated with a slower decrease in lung function.
Blueberries are rich in nutrients and their consumption has been linked to a number of health benefits, including protecting and maintaining lung function.
Blueberries are a rich source of anthocyanins, including malvidin, cyanidin, peonidin, delphinidin, and petunidin.
Anthocyanins are strong pigments that have been shown to protect lung tissue from oxidative damage.
A study of 839 veterans found that eating blueberries were associated with the slowest decline in lung function, and eating 2 or more servings of blueberries per week reduced lung function decline by up to 38% compared to little or no blueberry consumption.
8. Green Tea
Green tea is a drink with impressive health effects. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is catechin concentrated in green tea. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to inhibit fibrosis or tissue healing.
Lung fibrosis is a disease that is characterized by progressive scarring of the lung tissue and affects lung function. Some research shows that EGCG can help treat this condition.
A small 2020 study of 20 people with pulmonary fibrosis found that treatment with EGCG extract over 2 weeks reduced the fibrosis markers compared to a control group.
9. Red Cabbage
Red cabbage is a rich and affordable source of anthocyanins. These plant pigments give red cabbage its bright color. The intake of anthocyanins has been associated with decreased lung function.
Cabbage is also full of fiber. Studies show that people who consume more fiber have better lung function than people who consume less fiber.
Edamame beans contain compounds called isoflavones. High isoflavone diets are associated with a reduced risk of many diseases, including COPD.
A study of 618 Japanese adults found that people with COPD had a much lower dietary intake of isoflavones compared to healthy control groups. In addition, isoflavone intake was significantly associated with better lung function and less difficulty breathing.
11. Olive Oil
Consuming olive oil can help protect against respiratory diseases like asthma. Olive oil is a concentrated source of anti-inflammatory antioxidants, including polyphenols and vitamin E, which are responsible for its powerful health benefits.
For example, a study of 871 people found that those who consumed a lot of olive oil were at a lower risk of asthma.
In addition, the Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil has been shown to improve lung function in smokers as well as in people with COPD and asthma.
Oysters are rich in nutrients that are important for lung health, such as zinc, selenium, B vitamins, and copper.
Studies show that people with a higher level of selenium and copper in their blood have a higher lung function than people with a lower content of these nutrients.
Oysters are also a great source of B vitamins and zinc, nutrients that are especially important for smokers.
Smoking consumes some B vitamins, including vitamin B12, which is concentrated in oysters. Studies also show that increasing zinc intake can help protect smokers from developing COPD.
Yogurt is rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium. Research has shown that these nutrients can help improve lung function and protect against the risk of COPD.
A study in Japanese adults found that higher calcium, phosphorus, potassium and selenium intake was associated with increased markers of lung function and those with the highest calcium intake. Patients had a 35% lower risk of COPD.
14. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are among the richest sources of selenium you can eat. A single Brazil nut can contain over 150% of the recommended intake for this important nutrient, although the concentrations vary widely depending on the growth conditions.
Studies show that high selenium intake can help protect against lung cancer, improve respiratory function in people with asthma, and improve antioxidant defense and immune function, which can help improve lung health.
Since Brazil nuts are such a concentrated source of selenium, it is recommended to consume only one or two nuts a day.
In addition to increasing your energy level, your morning cup of coffee can help protect your lungs. Coffee is loaded with caffeine and antioxidants, which can have a positive effect on lung health.
Research shows that drinking coffee can help improve lung function and protect against respiratory diseases. For example, caffeine acts as a vasodilator, which means that it helps open blood vessels and at least temporarily relieve symptoms in people with asthma.
In addition, a review of 15 studies found that long-term coffee consumption was associated with positive effects on lung function and a lower risk of asthma.
16. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is a dark leafy green with a high magnesium content. Magnesium protects against inflammation and helps the bronchioles, the small airways in the lungs, to remain relaxed by preventing airway restriction.
Higher magnesium intake has been associated with better lung function in several studies. In addition, low magnesium levels are associated with worsening of symptoms in people with COPD.
In addition, many studies have linked a higher intake of green leafy vegetables such as Swiss chard with a lower risk of lung cancer and COPD.
Barley is a nutritious whole grain that is rich in fiber. It has been shown that diets high in high-fiber whole grain products have a protective effect on lung function and can reduce the risk of death from lung diseases.
Antioxidants in whole grain products such as flavonoids and vitamin E also promote lung health and protect against cell damage.
Anchovies are small fish that are filled with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients that support lung health, such as selenium, calcium, and iron.
Eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids like anchovies can be especially beneficial for people with inflammatory lung diseases like COPD. A 2020 study found that higher omega-3 fat intake was associated with reduced COPD symptoms and better lung function.
In addition, a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve symptoms in people with asthma.
Lentils are rich in many nutrients that support lung function, such as magnesium, iron, copper, and potassium.
The Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to promoting lung health, is rich in legumes like lentils.
Research has shown that a Mediterranean diet can maintain the lung function of smokers. In addition, eating high fiber lenses can help protect against lung cancer and COPD.
Cocoa and cocoa products like dark chocolate are rich in flavonoid antioxidants and contain a compound called theobromine, which relaxes the airways in the lungs.
Cocoa consumption has been associated with a lower risk of allergic respiratory problems and may help protect against lung cancer.
In addition, a study of 55,000 people found that people with a higher dietary flavonoid intake, including chocolate products, had better lung function than people with a low flavonoid diet.