If you’ve added quitting smoking to your New Year’s resolution list, then first of all, congratulations. Second, check out the conclusion of a new study from Johns Hopkins: A diet rich in tomatoes and apples (and fruits in general) may be what your body needs to help heal your tarred and leathered lungs.
The study started in 2002, when the researchers looked at the diets and lung health of 650 adults. The researchers then reassessed those 650 people in 2012. The researchers found that people’s lungs tended to stay healthier if they ate more than two tomatoes or three portions of fresh fruit a day, compared to people who ate fewer tomatoes or fresh fruit a day. The affect extended to ex-smokers, whose lungs stayed healthier for longer if they ate the same amounts of fruit every day—which, in turn, suggests the diet can help restore lung health.
Oh, and by the way: Contrary to what the old USDA Food Guide Pyramid implied, tomatoes are in fact fruit, because they contain seeds. (So are peppers and cucumbers, for that matter.)
“Lung function starts to decline at around age 30 at variable speed depending upon the general and specific health of individuals,” said study head Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health. “Our study suggests that eating more fruits on a regular basis can help attenuate the decline as people age, and might even help repair damage caused by smoking. Diet could become one way of combating rising diagnosis of COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] around the world.”