Foods to Eat for Healthy Lungs, What comes to mind when you consider maintaining your lungs? The #1 item on the list is unquestionably not smoking. However, there are other lifestyle choices, including your food, that may prevent or delay the onset of lung conditions like pulmonary hypertension, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In fact, studies have shown that even if you don’t smoke, what you eat and drink can affect how well your lungs work generally.
“The high antioxidant content of a plant-based diet or a Mediterranean-style diet rich in leafy greens, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, as well as vitamin E, vitamin C, and other phytochemicals supports the health of the lungs. These foods are anti-inflammatory, which may lower the chance of developing COPD “Lisa Andrews, M.Ed., RD, LD, states.
Fruits and vegetable-rich diets are associated with improved lung health. Foods that reduce inflammation and vasodilate our blood vessels (keep them wide open) can be advantageous for that aspect of lung health, says William Li, M.D., author of Eat to Beat Disease.
Like with other health disorders, prevention and management can be influenced by both what you add to your diet and what you limit. According to Julie Balsamo, M.S., RDN, “Inflammation drives many lung problems; therefore, when it comes to nutrition, the focus should be on foods that support healing, while minimizing items that can aggravate inflammation.” Consuming a variety of plant meals while avoiding processed foods is necessary to achieve this.
Even though your overall diet is most important, certain foods may be particularly beneficial in protecting your lungs or slowing the advancement of some lung disorders. According to experts, these items are the greatest to have on the menu.
Best Foods for Lungs
Best Foods to Eat for Healthy Lungs are:
Walnuts are a fantastic source of magnesium, an essential electrolyte that supports the muscles in your lungs, according to Kiah Connolly, M.D., a board-certified emergency medicine physician and director of Trifecta Nutrition with a California practice.
Additionally, walnuts’ omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that may help to lessen lung inflammation and enhance breathing. According to experts at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, substances generated from omega-3 fatty acids may also be essential for the body’s ability to fight off lung infections.
Beets and beet greens both include a wealth of nutrients that could improve lung function by reducing inflammation. Additionally, food nitrates, which are abundant in beets, have been demonstrated to increase exercise tolerance in COPD sufferers.
Additionally, dietary nitrates from beets and beet juice are known to be able to lower blood pressure, particularly in those who have pulmonary hypertension. According to Balsamo, eating beets may help lower blood pressure, which is advantageous for people who have breathing problems.
From the canned variety that your parents or grandparents may have served, beets have gone a long way. For a tasty boost, try Crispy Smashed Beets with Feta or Honey-Roasted Beets.
Blueberries are frequently referred to as “superfoods” for a reason. In fact, they provide what seems like an endless amount of health advantages, including promoting lung health.
“These gorgeous blue fruits are a source of anthocyanin, a flavonoid antioxidant that has been shown to protect the lungs as we age. A 2018 study that was presented in San Diego at the American Thoracic Society meeting revealed that flavonoids can be found in lung tissue a few hours after consumption “Declares Andrews Initial studies imply that the antioxidants in blueberries may also help slow the progression of symptoms of COPD, though more studies are necessary to confirm this.
There are other ways to enjoy these potent berries than simply eating them directly from the container.
According to registered dietitian Jackie Elnahar, RD, of New York, apples are high in a phytonutrient called quercetin, which “has been clinically demonstrated to be healthy for the lungs.” “It acts as an anti-inflammatory to help lessen the harmful effects of COPD and oxidative stress from the environment and helps lower asthma risks and COPD complications.” (Added bonus: According to Li, the peel contains ursolic acid, which enhances circulation.)
Quercetin may lessen the overall effects of cigarette smoke and has also been associated with improved lung function in smokers with emphysema. Additionally, regular apple consumption has been linked to higher results on the forced expiratory volume and forced vital capacity lung capacity tests.
According to Balsamo, tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a pigment that “has been found to lower airway inflammation.” According to a 2017 study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, persons who ate two tomatoes daily had less lung deterioration than those who ate fewer than one. Vitamin C, which has been demonstrated to lessen inflammation in autoimmune illnesses, is another important component of tomatoes.
While tomatoes are beneficial for lung health in all forms, cooking tomatoes has been demonstrated to improve lycopene absorption. So, try to eat a variety of prepared and fresh tomatoes, when they are in season.
To help your lung function work at its best, it is critical to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D. According to Connolly, mushrooms are high in vitamin D, which may help reduce airway inflammation and promote immunity and overall lung function. (They also include beta-glucans, which Li claims decrease inflammatory responses in the body.)
7. Red Peppers
The majority of us believe that eating oranges will provide us with adequate vitamin C, however, red peppers actually have higher vitamin C concentrations per serving, and just a half cup is needed to meet the daily recommendation. According to registered dietitian Emily Wunder, RD, “Vitamin C has a preventive effect on certain lung disorders, notably asthma and obstructive airway diseases,” a benefit that most likely results from the vitamin’s antioxidant qualities.
According to one meta-analysis of 21 research, vitamin C may help prevent lung cancer. Various studies have connected pepper consumption to a lower risk of COPD. Red peppers can be eaten raw as a snack with hummus or your favorite dip, added to salads, stir-fries, or pasta dishes, or used to make our vegetarian stuffed peppers.
All types of beans, including black, red, white, and garbanzo, are packed with nutrients. That help promote overall health, which includes lung health. “A fantastic source of dietary fiber that benefits intestinal health is beans. According to preliminary animal studies, pulmonary arterial hypertension and changes in gut flora are related “Declares Andrews. While an additional investigation is required to determine the precise relationship in humans, other study points to certain positive advantages.
According to one study, low-fiber diets were connected to impaired lung function while high-fiber diets were linked to improved lung health. An analysis of plant-based diets also indicates that beans may help lower the incidence of lung cancer (among other cancers). If you don’t usually consume beans, start by incorporating them into a soup, stew, or pasta dish.
Salmon is a rich source of essential amino acids. Which the body needs to create proteins for a variety of functions, including nutrient absorption and tissue repair. Connolly explains that since the body is unable to produce necessary amino acids. We must consume all of them through food.
Omega-3 fatty acids (to reduce inflammatory responses in the body) and vitamin D are two additional essential elements for the health of the lungs found in salmon (to improve respiratory muscle strength). Connolly continues, “It’s also heavy in fats and protein and low in carbs.” Given that carbohydrates are the food group. That produces the most carbon dioxide, this may assist some people with COPD to breathe easier.
Calcium, a crucial electrolyte for lung health, is abundant in oranges, according to Connolly. It is even more crucial that your food supports rebuilding your stores. Because people with chronic lung disorders frequently take steroids, which can result in low calcium levels. Oranges’ vitamin C content, on the other hand, may offer protection against lung cancer and COPD.
Eggs contain vitamin A, an antioxidant that functions in the body to repair harmed cells and develop healthy ones. In addition to being high in omega-3 fatty acids and protein (a crucial nutrient for keeping strong respiratory muscles).
According to Trista Best, RD, a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements. “This makes vitamin A vital for building healthy lung tissue and has been proven to promote lung health and tissue in patients with a COPD diagnosis.”
12. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like spinach and kale are rich in phytochemicals (carotenoids) and antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E) that may help reduce inflammation. According to Connolly, “Different research indicates that consuming a diet high in leafy greens may lessen the incidence of lung cancer.” This could be a result of the fact that carotenoids are thought to protect cells and prevent the early stages of cancer.
In addition, leafy greens are a good source of the antioxidant sulforaphane, according to Andrews. Additionally, according to Li, they have a lot of naturally occurring nitrates in the soil. Which your body turns into nitric oxide, a potent blood vessel dilator that is good for circulation and oxygen delivery.
According to Elnahar, a substance called sulforaphane that can be found in broccoli .” Increases the expression (activity) of a gene located in lung cells that protects the lungs from damage caused by toxins.” Things like smoking or environmental pollutants may be the cause of this harm.
The amount of vitamin C in broccoli is high. As is the amount in kale and Brussels sprouts, two other cruciferous vegetables. According to Best, “this antioxidant is known to strengthen immune function and specifically guards the body against infection and illness—especially the lungs.”
The Bottom Line
Lung health can be affected by your diet. Increase your intake of plant foods, which generally have some advantages, while cutting back on red meat and processed foods. Also, bear in mind that your lifestyle as whole counts. Quit smoking, exercise frequently, get enough sleep each night, and attempt to manage your stress.
Last but not least, if you have a lung condition, lifestyle and diet are vital for both prevention and therapy, but they don’t take the place of medication. To develop a medical strategy that is best for you, collaborate carefully with your healthcare team.