(More!) Best Foods for Healthy Lungs

It’s National Healthy Lungs Month, and this week, we’re revisiting a list of the best foods to promote—you guessed it—healthy lungs!

Our previous list of 10 items included foods that are more common around the household and in the grocery store such as peppers, apples, blueberries and coffee. Our new 10-item science-backed list is composed of some foods that are a little less common—but no less effective for achieving lung health.

Let’s dive in!


Turmeric is often used to promote overall health due to its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Curcumin, the main active component in turmeric, may be especially beneficial for supporting lung function.

A study in 2,478 people found that curcumin intake was associated with improved lung function. Plus, the lung function of smokers who had the highest intake of curcumin was significantly greater than smokers who had low curcumin intake.

In fact, high curcumin intake in smokers was associated with 9.2% greater lung function, compared with smokers who did not consume curcumin.

Red cabbage

Red cabbage is an affordable and rich source of anthocyanins. These plant pigments give red cabbage its vivid color. Anthocyanin intake has been linked to a reduced decline in lung function.

Cabbage is also packed with fiber. Studies show that people who consume more fiber have better lung function than those who consume low amounts of fiber.


Edamame beans contain compounds called isoflavones. Diets rich in isoflavones have been associated with a reduced risk of numerous diseases, including COPD.

A study in 618 Japanese adults found that people with COPD had much lower intakes of dietary isoflavones, compared with healthy control groups. Isoflavone intake was significantly associated with better lung function and reduced shortness of breath.


Oysters are loaded with nutrients that are essential to lung health, including zinc, selenium, B vitamins, and copper.

Studies show that people with higher blood levels of selenium and copper have greater lung function, compared with those with lower levels of these nutrients.

Additionally, oysters are an excellent source of B vitamins and zinc, nutrients that are especially important for people who smoke.

Smoking depletes certain B vitamins, including vitamin B12, which is concentrated in oysters. Studies show that higher zinc intake may help protect smokers from developing COPD.


Yogurt is rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium. According to research, these nutrients may help boost lung function and protect against COPD risk.

A study in Japanese adults found that higher intakes of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium were associated with increased lung function markers, and those with the highest calcium intake had a 35% reduced risk of COPD.

Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are amongst the richest sources of selenium that you can eat. A single Brazil nut may contain over 150% of the recommended intake for this important nutrient, though concentrations vary significantly depending on growing conditions.

Studies show that a high selenium intake may help protect against lung cancer, improve respiratory function in people with asthma, and enhance antioxidant defenses and immune function, which may help improve lung health.

Because Brazil nuts are such a concentrated source of selenium, it’s recommended to keep your intake to just one or two nuts per day.

Swiss chard

Swiss chard is a dark leafy green that’s high in magnesium. Magnesium helps protect against inflammation, and it helps bronchioles—tiny airways inside your lungs—stay relaxed, preventing airway restriction.

Higher magnesium intake has been associated with better lung function in a number of studies. Low magnesium levels are associated with worsening symptoms in people with COPD.

Additionally, many studies have linked greater intake of leafy green vegetables like Swiss chard to a reduced risk of lung cancer and COPD.


Barley is a nutritious whole grain that’s high in fiber. High fiber diets rich in whole grains have been shown to have a protective effect on lung function and may reduce the risk of mortality from lung-related diseases.

The antioxidants found in whole grains like flavonoids and vitamin E also promote lung health and protect against cellular damage.


Anchovies are tiny fish that are packed with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, as well as other lung-health-promoting nutrients like selenium, calcium, and iron.

Eating omega-3-rich fish like anchovies may be particularly beneficial for people with inflammatory lung diseases like COPD. A 2020 study found that a higher intake of omega-3 fats was associated with reduced COPD symptoms and improved lung function.

Consuming an omega-3-rich diet may help reduce symptoms in people with asthma.


Lentils are high in many nutrients that help support lung function, including magnesium, iron, copper, and potassium.

The Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with promoting lung health, is high in legumes like lentils.

Research has shown that following a Mediterranean dietary pattern can preserve lung function in people who smoke. Plus, eating fiber-rich lentils may help protect against lung cancer and COPD.

This article was brought to you by the Proactive Health Management Plan in partnership with Healthline.

  • Charles Subke
    Posted at 22:33h, 05 November

    Good Information

  • JP
    Posted at 10:34h, 03 November

    good info

  • Lynn Marie Ramirez
    Posted at 20:23h, 02 November

    Good information. Thanks

  • Kimberly J Dunn
    Posted at 15:46h, 02 November


  • Shelia Harris
    Posted at 15:38h, 02 November

    Love this

  • Alexis Carter
    Posted at 13:57h, 02 November

    awesome information, thank you!

  • Angela McPherson
    Posted at 08:51h, 02 November

    I eat majority of these good items already but learned a little more on reading the article

  • Stella Stanley
    Posted at 23:26h, 01 November


  • Andra Kiser
    Posted at 21:26h, 01 November


  • Brendanicholson
    Posted at 19:43h, 01 November


  • Chardai Haymer
    Posted at 19:01h, 01 November

    Great info!!!

    Posted at 18:16h, 01 November

    Thank for the info

  • Gretchen Phillips
    Posted at 17:18h, 01 November

    I am excited!! I eat all of those foods except anchovies.

  • Lona Franczak
    Posted at 16:31h, 01 November

    I’m going to buy some lentils now !!!!

  • Kim bigalk
    Posted at 15:40h, 01 November


  • Dwight
    Posted at 14:28h, 01 November

    Just eat healthy with moderation of sweets

  • Danielle Utberg
    Posted at 13:04h, 01 November

    Thank you!

  • Erin Terese DeLain
    Posted at 13:04h, 01 November


  • Leesa R Hutchins
    Posted at 12:27h, 01 November

    Very Interesting. Thanks.

  • Harbey Flores
    Posted at 11:50h, 01 November


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