Top 21 Foods to Eat for Healthier Lungs

Dec 13, 2022 | Be Well

Top 21 Foods to Eat for Healthier Lungs

So, you want to start living a healthier lifestyle? Good! One of the first things you should start with is finding foods to eat for healthier lungs. While quitting smoking is a significant help in the health of your lungs, keeping them healthy with foods that supply nutrients to them is essential too. Check these foods out!

21 Foods to Eat for Healthier Lungs

Keeping your lungs healthy is vital to your survival and health. Besides lifestyle modifications, eating these has proven beneficial to your lungs. If you don’t see these in your diet yet, perhaps it is time that you do. 

1. Apples

Apple pie is good, but nothing beats eating fresh apples. While this may not be a favorite among other people, apples are beneficial to your lungs’ health. It is because apples contain a phytonutrient called quercetin which helps in reducing asthma and the risk of developing COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). It also acts as an anti-inflammatory, which helps reduce the effects of COPD and oxidative stress you get from the environment. The apple peelings also contain ursolic acid – which helps improve the body’s circulation. 

2. Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in nutrients and are beneficial to the body when eaten. They also help protect and preserve the health of your lungs. These berries are also known to be a good source of anthocyanins. These include delphinidin, cyanidin, malvidin, peonidin, and petunidin. 

The anthocyanins found in blueberries are pigments that help protect the tissues in the lungs from oxidative damage. So eating more blueberries can help your lungs and body in many ways. 

3. Broccoli

The broccoli vegetable is abundant with the compound sulforaphane, which can help protect the lungs. Along with Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous veggies, this too contains vitamin c. Both sulforaphane and vitamin C are needed to boost the lungs’ immune system and protect it from infection or illnesses. 

4. Beets 

This root crop contains compounds essential in helping the lungs function. Beets are rich in nitrates, allowing blood vessels to relax, optimize oxygen intake, and reduce blood pressure. 

Those taking beetroot supplements have shown improved physical and lung performance, including pulmonary hypertension and COPD. Besides nitrates, beets are packed with potassium, magnesium, carotenoid antioxidants, and Vitamin C, all needed by the lungs. 

5. Brazil Nuts

If you are looking for nuts or similar foods to eat for healthier lungs, you can try Brazil nuts. This type of nut is one of the richest sources of selenium. A single Brazil nut contains over 150% of the recommended selenium intake, but concentrations may also vary depending n where they were grown. 

Selenium is beneficial in the lungs as it helps to improve their respiratory function and protects against lung cancer. The antioxidant in this nut also prevents asthma, boosts the immune system, and enhances the lungs’ defense. It is highly recommended to eat one or two Brazil nuts every day to keep your lungs healthy. 

6. Coffee

Good news for coffee lovers! Drinking a cup of coffee may help protect your lungs in addition to boosting your energy levels. Coffee is rich in antioxidants and caffeine, essential for lung health. According to research, this drink can improve lung function and protect it from respiratory diseases. Caffeine is a vasodilator, meaning it opens up blood vessels. When your blood vessels are open, this reduces asthma symptoms even for short periods. 

7. Eggs

The humble egg is an excellent source of omega-3 and protein. It also contains Vitamin A, an antioxidant that helps repair damaged cells and make new ones. Vitamin A is also important in lung health and the tissues around it.  Patients with COPD are also recommended to eat eggs to help improve their lungs’ capacity and function. 

8. Edamame

Foods to eat for healthier lungs must be rich in isoflavones. You can find this compound in edamame beans. They help reduce the risk of developing certain diseases, including COPD. In a study conducted in Japan, it was found that those who have a lower intake of isoflavones are more at risk for developing COPD compared to those who regularly eat them. Besides protecting your lungs from these diseases, isoflavones also help reduce shortness of breath. 

9. Green tea

One of the best drinks beneficial to your lungs is green tea. It is rich in a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which are excellent in healing scar tissues in the lungs. The antioxidant properties in green tea also help prevent lung diseases like fibrosis from developing. 

10. Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy veggies like kale, spinach, and similar vegetables are rich in antioxidants. They are also packed with Vitamins A, C, and E and phytochemicals or carotenoids, which help reduce inflammation in the lungs. In addition to that, carotenoids help protect cells against developing cancers. A diet rich in highly leafy greens can also reduce the risk of lung cancer and other lung diseases. Leafy greens are also rich in nitrates, essential in oxygen delivery and blood circulation. 

11. Lentils

Lentils are packed with copper, iron, magnesium, and potassium – they are all essential in lung function. Many diets use lentils, but the Mediterranean diet is highly recommended for promoting lung health. Fiber-rich lentils also help protect the lungs against developing cancers and respiratory issues. So, eating and adding lentils and legumes to your diet is vital to keep the lungs healthy. 

12. Mushroom

Vitamin D is essential in helping your lungs function as it helps optimize them. One of the foods you can eat that contains Vitamin D is mushrooms. Eating mushrooms can decrease the inflammation in your airways and boosts your immunity. It is also rich in beta-glucans, a compound that helps reduce inflammation in the body. 

13. Olive oil

Olive oil helps protect the lungs from asthma. It is also rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants like polyphenols and Vitamin E. The Mediterranean diet is an excellent source for both and helps prevent asthma and COPD.

14. Oranges

If you are looking for foods for healthier lungs rich in Vitamin C, eat oranges. When you are suffering from COPD, the calcium levels decrease when you take medications with steroids. That said, eating fruits like oranges can help boost your immune system and protect the lungs from certain cancers and respiratory issues. 

15. Oysters

Oysters are excellent copper, B vitamins, zinc, and selenium sources. People who have high selenium and copper in the body have better lung function than those who have lower levels. 

Smoking depletes the body’s levels of zinc and B vitamins, including vitamin B12. Eating oysters can increase these levels and protect the body from developing COPD due to smoking. 

16. Pumpkin

Did you know that pumpkins are not only good for carving but also beneficial to the health of your lungs? They are rich in carotenoids like lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene – all are powerful antioxidants. Pumpkin also has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation in the body. People who eat pumpkins have better lung function than those who don’t. 

17. Red Peppers

Like the orange, red peppers are also packed with Vitamin C. Half a cup of red peppers per serving contains more Vitamin C than other food. It is also the reason why it is recommended to be added to your diet. Vitamin C is essential to the lungs because it helps protect is from lung diseases like asthma and COPD. 

18. Red cabbage

If you are looking for a good source of anthocyanins that is also affordable, buy some red cabbage. Anthocyanin helps reduce the decline of lung function, plus it is packed with fiber, which is also helpful in maintaining your lung health. 

19. Salmon

The foods to eat for healthier lungs must be diverse. It should not only include fruits or vegetables but fish as well. One of the best sources of amino acids is salmon. The amino acid found in salmon is used by the body to make proteins. 

These proteins are essential in helping the body repair damaged tissues. Besides amino acids, salmon is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It helps reduce inflammation in the body. In addition to that, salmon is also packed with Vitamin D. This vitamin helps strengthen the respiratory muscles. 

People with COPD can benefit from eating salmon as it is low in carbs and high in fats and protein. It will help them breathe better as carbohydrates produce the most carbon dioxide. 

20. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are known for lycopene, which is an antioxidant. Adults who eat two tomatoes each day were able to show less lung decline than those who did not. Besides lycopene, tomatoes are also good sources of Vitamin C, which helps reduce inflammation. 

21. Turmeric

Turmeric is rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidants, essential in supporting lung health. It has the active component curcumin, the compound found in turmeric. Adding turmeric to your diet can improve your lungs’ general health. 

In Closing

There are plenty of foods to eat for healthier lungs. Our list is just a few of them. Make sure to discuss your options with your dietitian or physician first. This way, it will be easy to include them in your everyday meals.