Are You A Smoker? These Foods Could Help Protect Your Lungs From Damage

Load up your plate with these to breathe better

Fruits and vegetables don’t just reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer—they could actually counteract some of the harmful effects of smoking, too. The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the lower your risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be, a study in the journal Thorax suggests.

COPD, which stems mainly from smoking, includes respiratory conditions like bronchitis and emphysema, according to a press release. The World Health Organization forecasts that COPD soon be the world’s third most common cause of death.

Related: Here’s Why You Feel Like Crap When You Quit Smoking

To investigate the link between COPD and diet, the new study’s authors followed 44,335 Swedish men ages 45 to 79 for 13 years, asking about their smoking habits and consumption of 96 foods. They found that men who skimped on fruits and veggies (less than two servings a day) were over twice as likely to develop COPD as those who consumed over five servings a day. And every additional serving people ate per day lowered their risk by 4 to 8 percent.

It mattered which particular fruits and veggies they ate, though. Leafy greens, apples, pears, and peppers were the most effective. These contain antioxidants, which may reduce the oxidative stress and inflammation smoking causes, the researchers believe.

Related: Improve Your Hearing With Antioxidants

Still, the findings of this study don’t mean that a healthy diet could reverse all the harmful effects of smoking. Every time you light up, you are putting your health in danger. In fact, the researchers stress that the best way to reduce your risk of COPD is to avoid smoking in the first place. Want to quit for good? Here’s how.

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