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What Are the Best Foods for Healthy Lungs?

Nov 19, 2021

What Are the Best Foods for Healthy Lungs?

Your lungs are vital organs that constantly work to keep you going. As you breathe in, your lungs provide you with fresh air; as you breathe out, they remove harmful waste. But to stay healthy, your lungs need your help. One meaningful way you can support them is with food that’s good for the lungs.

After around age 35, your lung capacity starts to decline. It’s not all doom and gloom, though. You can take steps to keep your lungs as healthy as possible, and that includes eating well.

Here are some of the best foods to eat for lung health.

1. Red Peppers

Peppers are rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to have positive effects on lung function. Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant that is important for everyone, especially those who smoke or have lung-related diseases.

2. Apples

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” in more ways than one. Apples contain quercetin, a flavonoid with anti-inflammatory properties. 

Research has shown that eating apples regularly might be associated with slower declines in lung function and fewer risks of asthma- and COPD-related issues.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are rich in an antioxidant called lycopene that has been connected to better lung health. These fruits are also a great source of vitamin C, which, as we’ve seen above, is helpful for lung health.

A 2017 study at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that adults who consumed two tomatoes each day had less lung decline than those who had less than one tomato each day.

4. Beets

Most people either love or hate beets, but there’s no doubting that they’re good for you.

Beets contain magnesium and carotenoids that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. You can also get nitrates, which help your blood vessels loosen and improve oxygen uptake, from eating beets.

5. Eggs and Other Vitamin D Sources

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin responsible for many bodily processes, including decreasing inflammation in your airways. Supplementing with vitamin D has been associated with lower rates of asthma attacks, and low vitamin D levels are linked to asthma in childhood.

Eggs are a fantastic source of vitamin D. If you’re not crazy about eggs, you can also get vitamin D from salmon, yogurt, and fortified dairy or non-dairy milks.

6. Kale and Other Leafy Greens

You can never go wrong with leafy green vegetables, which are full of healthy antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E. Some research shows that leafy greens might reduce the risk of lung cancer.

Leafy greens that are lung-healthy foods include:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage

Those last three are also cruciferous vegetables, which might help reduce the risk of lung cancer in smokers.

7. Steel Cut Oats and Other Whole Grains

For those with lung conditions, simple carbs can lead to breathing difficulties. Instead, focus on complex carbs like oats, quinoa, and whole-wheat bread.

Whole grains are essential for those without existing lung conditions, too. These foods contain heart-healthy fiber and minerals like magnesium, iron, and copper that are good for lung health.

8. Green Tea

Green tea is a calming drink with potential lung benefits. It contains high levels of EGCG, flavanol, and quercetin, antioxidants that support lung health.

9. Water

Lastly, don’t forget about plain old water for supporting your lungs. Your lungs use water to keep you free and clear of mucous and other sources of buildup in your airways. Even small amounts of dehydration might impact your lungs, so drink up!

The Bottom Line

You probably don’t think much about your lungs day-to-day, but they are always working to support you. You can help them back with healthy habits like eating these good foods for lung health.

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