Lungs are one of the most important organs of the human body. They play a key role in taking the oxygen from the air and passing it on to the bloodstream, along with collecting carbon dioxide from the blood and expelling it out. In short, lungs are what will help you breathe and keep you alive! Along with cutting down smoking and exposure to environmental toxins, it’s essential to eat a diet rich in foods for healthy lungs.
With the pandemic playing havoc with our lungs, it’s wise to act immediately and try out these 20 foods that boost lung health! Some of these foods are even proven to combat chronic respiratory issues like COPD, asthma etc., and enable us to breathe freely & normally again!
20 Best Foods To Keep Lungs Healthy:
Here are some of the best foods which increase the efficiency of your lungs and enable you to breathe better:
Tomatoes are known for preventing respiratory problems by improving the health of your lungs. Tomatoes contain beta-carotene and a key antioxidant called lycopene, which can slow down the rate of the lungs ageing process. Lycopene also fights free radicals that damage lung cells and minimize the risk of airway inflammation which cause asthma and breathing problems. Additionally, Experts recommend consuming more than two tomatoes per day to keep a check on respiratory ailments.
Pumpkin is another bright-coloured food that can boost the health of your lungs. The vegetable is a rich source of beta-carotene and other carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, which reduce inflammation and fight free radical cells. A study also shows that carotenoids like beta-carotene have lung-protective properties, both in healthy people and smokers as well (1). Additionally, Vitamin C and E present in Pumpkin can improve pulmonary health by reducing oxidative stress in the body.
Blueberries are antioxidant-rich fruits that can protect your lung health and slow down lung function decline. Blueberries are rich in powerful compounds called anthocyanins, responsible for the dark-coloured pigment to the fruits. Research shows that consuming fruits that are high in anthocyanins can protect the lungs against damage, increase their capacity, and prevent respiratory problems in later stages of life.
Cocoa powder not only adds a bold chocolate flavour to cakes and cookies but also does plenty of good to your lung health! Studies show that unsweetened cocoa powder has a natural anti-asthma potential, thanks to its antioxidant-rich profile. Bitter cocoa powder is high in many polyphenols like catechins, epicatechins and procyanidins, compounds capable of reducing oxidative stress on the airways. Additionally, cocoa powder is also known to reduce allergies that can trigger respiratory problems.
Coffee is an elixir to many of us in keeping us active, improving our thinking ability and even safeguarding our lungs. A study reveals that caffeine present in coffee can temporarily improve lung function up to 4-5 hours (2). However, the research suggests that caffeine is a weak bronchodilator that can reduce respiratory morbidity when consumed as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Recent findings show that people who consumed Yoghurt regularly have a 19% reduced risk of lung cancer. It is known that the probiotics present in Yoghurt improve gut flora, which in turn play a key role in reducing lung inflammation. Furthermore, Yoghurt is rich in many nutrients like Calcium, selenium etc. which can reduce the risk of COPD and other respiratory problems.
Flaxseeds are one of the best foods that promote good lung health. A few studies conducted on mice suggest that flaxseed may play a key role in reducing lung inflammation and fight oxidative stress. Lignans and omega-3 fatty acids present in flaxseeds exhibit antioxidant properties to lung tissue damage and inflammation. However, the effects of flaxseeds on human lungs are still under study and more research is required.
Oysters are not only delicious to eat but also offer numerous benefits to your body, especially your lungs. Research suggests that Oysters contain many nutrients like selenium, zinc, copper etc. which improve lung functionality. Additionally, the high concentration of Vitamin B12 can prevent lung damage in smokers and prevent them from developing respiratory problems like COPD.
Recent findings show that beetroots work as ‘superfoods’ to improve lung health. Beets are high in nitrates which may improve the muscle function of the diaphragm and increase the oxygen intake capacity. (3). Additionally, the nitrate-rich beetroot juice may improve the physical capacity of patients with respiratory issues like COPD and allow them to utilise their lungs to the full capacity. Beetroot juice is also loaded with essential minerals and vitamins which strengthen your lungs.
Turmeric is one of the best lung cleansing foods to include in your daily diet. Curcumin, a powerful antioxidant present in Turmeric is known to neutralize the toxic effect of free radicals to reduce inflammation in the lungs. Furthermore, turmeric has expectorant properties which can break down the mucus in your respiratory tract and clear up the airways. The healing nature of turmeric is known to repair damaged lung tissues and restore them back to health. You can add turmeric in cooking and also add a pinch to hot water and inhale the steam.
11. Green Tea:
Green tea is a wonderful remedy to improve lung health and experience free-breathing again. The popular health drink is loaded with many antioxidants which reduce inflammation in the lungs. The high concentration of flavonoids present in green tea can protect your lung from chronic diseases like COPD and Cancers. Some findings also suggest that green tea may minimize the impact of smoking on your lungs and prevent them from delicining.
Water is a crucial element for the lungs to absorb oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Hence it is important to drink enough water to hydrate your lungs along with the rest of the body. Lack of sufficient water levels can trigger the production of histamines in the lungs which create breathing difficulties by shutting off the capillaries in the lungs. Furthermore, water prevents the mucus lining in the walls of the lungs from getting thick and makes you prone to respiratory problems.
13. Cruciferous Veggies:
Cruciferous vegetables are anti-oxidant rich foods that belong to the cabbage family. Vegetables such as Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Kale etc. are rich in compounds called isothiocyanates which have anti-cancer properties. A study shows that consuming these cruciferous veggies can reduce the risk of lung cancers even in smokers (4). Additionally, the chemical compounds present in these foods can clear out the harmful bacteria in the lungs by boosting your immune system.
Garlic is powerful and effective food for improving the health of your lungs. A compound called allicin present in garlic has powerful antibiotic effects on the body to fight infections in the lungs. The compound also has anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties to reduce inflammation in the lungs and overcome breathing difficulties. Some studies also show that people who consumed garlic regularly have lowered risk of lung cancers and chronic respiratory problems like bronchitis, COPD etc.
Berries are one of the best fruits to eat for healthy lungs. Varieties like strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries etc. are loaded with powerful antioxidants which protect your lung health. These fruits are rich sources of compounds called anthocyanins which strengthen your lungs and prevent them from declining.
Apples are nutrient-rich fruits that can be beneficial to your lung health. Many studies show that apples can minimize the damage of the lungs in chronic smokers due to the high concentration of antioxidants. Apples are also rich in many compounds like flavonoids and Vitamin C which have lung-protective properties and reduce your risk of asthma, COPD and even lung cancer.
Peppers may scare you with their heat and pungent taste, but are actually one of the best lung detox foods. And Peppers, particularly the Cayenne variety, contain a compound called Capsaicin, which protects the mucus linings in your lung. Recent findings also suggest that Capsaicin can prevent lung cancers by slowing down the rate of cancer cell growth.
Don’t let the bitter taste of grapefruit make you miss out on its lung-protective benefits. Grapefruit is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants which strengthen your lungs and prevent them from getting damaged. Pink grapefruits contain an enzyme called Naringin, along with lycopene which can deactivate cancer-causing cells in the body. This water-rich fruit also hydrates your body and lungs at the same time.
Carrots are not only good for your eyes but also for your lungs. These root vegetables are loaded with essential nutrients like Vitamin A, C, Lycopene etc. which can prevent damage to your lungs. Furthermore, Carrots are also rich in compounds called carotenoids which can strengthen your lungs and improve their functionality.
20. Magnesium-Rich Foods:
Magnesium is a crucial mineral to safeguard the health of your lungs. The agent reduces inflammation in the lungs and prevent the airway from getting restricted. Studies also show that people who consumed more magnesium in their diet have better lung performance and reduced risk of respiratory issues. Some of the best magnesium-rich foods for the lungs include nuts, dark green leafy vegetables, fish, Edamame etc.
Those are some of the best foods to eat to protect the health of your lungs. Along with eating these foods, it’s also important to practice breathing exercises like Pranayam to improve your lung performance. Also, stay away from smoking and toxins which can potentially damage these organs in the long run and leave you feeling ‘breathless’!
DISCLAIMER: The information provided in the article is purely for educational purpose(s) only and does not qualify for diagnosing or treating a health condition. The reader must seek professional medical advice instead of solely relying on the information on this website.
1. What are the foods to avoid to protect our lungs?
Ans: There are many “worst” foods for the lungs which can impair the functionality of these organs and increase your risk of respiratory problems. A few of them are – salty foods (can cause water retention in lungs), processed meats (can cause lung inflammation), alcohol (can worsen asthma and breathing problems), soft drinks (can cause bronchitis) etc.
2. What are the natural ways to strengthen the lungs?
Ans: To attain healthy lungs, you must stick to a food routine that combines diet, exercise and water. Include more foods that boost lung health like fruits, nuts etc. Drink good amounts of water to stay hydrated. Perform exercises like deep breathing, diaphragmatic breathing and increasing the length if inhale-exhale.
3. Can fruit trigger phlegm in the lungs?
Ans: Certain fruits like bananas can increase histamine levels in the body, leading to more mucus production. However, if you stick to the recommended quantity, fruits actually help you improve your lung health. Also, the mucus levels triggered by fruits may vary from person to person. So, if you have chronic lung problems like COPD or asthma, it is better to check with a doctor about the suitability of fruits for your condition.