[2 min read] 17 best foods to optimise lung health

Lung health is a common issue among patients presenting to their primary care practitioner, with triggers ranging from environmental toxins to pulmonary conditions such as asthma, COPD and cystic fibrosis.

Some lifestyle modifications including following a nutrient-rich diet have been shown to protect the lungs and reduce symptoms of disease. This is an overview of the top 17 foods you might recommend to your patients in primary care to help boost lung function.

  • Beetroot – Rich in nitrates which relax blood vessels and optimise oxygen uptake.
  • Peppers – One of the richest sources of vitamin C, which is especially important for smokers.
  • Apples – Apple intake is associated with a slower decline in lung function in ex-smokers.
  • Pumpkin – Full of plant compounds such as carotenoids, which promote lung health.
  • Turmeric – Has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Tomato – Among the richest dietary sources of lycopene, a carotenoid antioxidant.
  • Blueberries and red cabbage – Rich sources of anthocyanins which protect lung tissue from oxidative damage.
  • Green tea – Contains epigallocatechin gallate which boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Edamame – Contains isoflavones which are associated with a reduced risk of numerous diseases, including COPD.
  • Olive oil – May protect against asthma due to its concentration of polyphenols and vitamin E.
  • Oysters – Loaded with nutrients essential to lung health, including zinc, selenium, B vitamins and copper.
  • Yoghurt – Rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium.
  • Coffee – Caffeine helps open blood vessels and may help reduce asthma symptoms.
  • Barley – Wholegrains rich in fibre may reduce the risk of mortality from lung-related diseases.
  • Anchovies – Packed with beneficial omega-3 fats, selenium, calcium and iron.
  • Lentils – High in many nutrients that help support lung function, including magnesium, iron, copper and potassium.
  • Cocoa – High in flavonoid antioxidants and theobromine, which helps relax the airways.

Helping your patients to incorporate these highly nutritious foods into their everyday diet may help to support and protect their lung health.

Learn more in the Professional Diploma program in Medical Nutrition Management

Medical Nutrition Certificate Courses in Australia

Read more recent research.

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