Ex-Smoker? Eating These 2 Foods Could Help Repair Your Lungs

Dec 22, 2017 at 10:15 a.m. ET
Image: Marianna Armata/Getty Images

For years, we've known smoking is bad for your health, and since 1965, more than 40 percent of adults who ever smoked have quit. But it turns out, beyond quitting, there are other steps former smokers can take to help repair their lungs — and that includes a diet rich in tomatoes and apples.

According to new research out of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, certain nutrients found in tomatoes and apples can help restore lung damage caused by smoking. Specifically, adults who ate more than two tomatoes or more than three portions of fresh fruit a day experienced a slower decline in lung function than those who ate fewer fruits.

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Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts: Researchers did not see the same positive effects from processed foods — like tomato sauce — and only saw the benefits from fresh fruits and vegetables.

And the benefits of eating tomatoes, in particular, are not limited to ex-smokers. The study — published in the European Respiratory Journal — found that even adults who never smoked saw a slowed natural decline of their lung function. Given that lung function starts to get worse around the age of 30, this is good news for everyone.

"This study shows that diet might help repair lung damage in people who have stopped smoking. It also suggests that a diet rich in fruits can slow down the lung's natural aging process even if you have never smoked," Dr. Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, assistant professor in the Bloomberg School's department of international health and the study's lead author, said in a statement. "The findings support the need for dietary recommendations, especially for people at risk of developing respiratory diseases such as COPD."

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So next time you're making a salad, throw a few fresh tomatoes on top or some sliced apples for extra flavor and some bonus health benefits.

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