Eating Tomatoes and Apples Could Help Keep Your Lungs Healthy—Even If You Smoke

12_21_2017
Fresh tomatoes could reverse lung damage in both smokers and nonsmokers, according to new study. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

While smokers may be able to undo some of the damage to their lungs, there's no debating that cigarettes cause long-term effects and increase cancer risk. However, new evidence indicates that certain foods could actually slow declining lung function both in smokers and nonsmokers, according to a release.

Related: Eating Salad Every Day Makes Brains 11 Years Younger and Prevents Dementia, Study Shows

Researchers from John Hopkins University found that tomatoes and fruits, particularly apples, slowed how much people's lungs decline over the course of 10 years, indicating that these foods might share certain nutrients that boost health.

For the study, 650 adults underwent tests analyzing lung function. Then, the same test was performed 10 years later to determine how the participants' lungs aged over time. Questionnaires analyzing diets and nutrition were given to people from Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom. Additionally, subjects were given a spirometry test, which measures how much oxygen their lungs can take in.

The team discovered the magic number of tomatoes seemed to be two a day, while three servings of other fresh fruit slowed the decline, as compared to people who included less than one tomato or fewer than one serving of other fruit a day. Processed foods that included fruits and vegetables, like tomato sauce, did not appear to have any benefit in terms of lung health.

Even those who have never smoked benefited from eating copious amounts of tomatoes, according to the paper published in the European Respiratory Journal. And while this may not seem like a cause of concern for non-smokers, our lungs do lose vitality as we age.

"Lung function starts to decline at around age 30 at variable speed depending on the general and specific health of individuals," said study co-author Garcia-Larsen in a statement. "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."

Poor lung function can cause a variety of concerns, as mild as getting winded easily during exercise, to an increased risk of stroke, according to a study from 2007.

In addition to keeping your lungs young, tomatoes have been linked to a decreased risk of prostate cancer and heart disease. And even better, processed tomatoes, have also been shown to carry these health benefits. Feel free to use that as an excuse to order the pasta.

Eating Tomatoes and Apples Could Help Keep Your Lungs Healthy—Even If You Smoke | Tech & Science