With coronavirus infections reaching new highs in some parts of the country, lung health has never been more important.
That’s why we wanted to tell you about fascinating research that shows an easy diet change can strengthen your lungs.
Even without a pandemic, your lungs are crucial to your overall health and longevity. Studies show that ex-smokers lose up to 10 years of lifespan because of the damage incurred to their respiratory system.
But researchers at Johns Hopkins University study found that eating at least two tomatoes a day may increase longevity in people with impaired lung function.
Researchers followed 680 adults for 10 years. The subjects included smokers, ex-smokers, and people who never smoked. The average age of the participants at the start of the study was 44.
Each subject answered detailed questionnaires about their diet. At the beginning and end of the 10-year study, each person’s lung function was tested.
After age 35, lung function begins to weaken whether you smoke or not.
But researchers found that ex-smokers who consumed more than two fresh tomatoes a day had a 15% slower decline during the study compared to those who ate less than one tomato a day.
Dr. Vanessa Garcia-Larsenis is an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health. She was lead author of the research. “This study shows that diet might help repair lung damage in people who have stopped smoking,” she said.
The research was published in the European Respiratory Journal.
The Healthiest Kind of Tomato
Tomatoes contain phytonutrient compounds, such as lycopene, that are natural antioxidants. Not only do they help keep your lungs healthy, they also are great for your heart. They have been shown to lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
But different types of tomatoes can have vastly different levels of phytonutrients. They vary depending on how the tomatoes are grown and what type they are.
Much of the nutrition of tomatoes is in the skin. Cherry and grape tomatoes have the greatest skin to flesh ratio. Therefore, they provide the most nutrients. They can contain over three times the nutrients of larger varieties.
Eat More Fresh Fruit for Stronger Lungs
While tomatoes were found to have the strongest lung-boosting effects, apples and bananas also helped subjects breathe better.
However, the study found that processed fruits such as in commercial tomato sauce or canned peaches did not improve lung health. The protective effect was found only with fresh fruits.
Nutrients and antioxidants beneficial to the lungs often are lost during commercial processing of foods, the scientists noted.
One more thing…
Look for organic tomatoes. You’ll get more nutrients without unhealthy chemical pesticide residues.
Editor’s Note: Read our monthly newsletter Independent Healing to discover the most-effective, science-backed strategies to stay healthy during the pandemic.
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