24 Oct (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.
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.
Additionally, oysters are an excellent source of B vitamins and zinc, nutrients that are especially important for people who smoke.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
The Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with promoting lung health, is high in legumes like lentils.
This article was brought to you by the Proactive Health Management Plan in partnership with Healthline.