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10 Best Plant-Based Foods for Lung Health


Given rising air pollution around the world, lung cancer and other lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are also on the rise, among smokers and non-smokers.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified particulate matter and outdoor air pollution as carcinogens, and claimed air pollution as “the most important environmental cancer killer.”

If the air we breathe is filled with cancer-causing substances, what can you do to strengthen your lung’s health?

You can move to Whitehorse in Canada and see the spectacular Northern Lights (Not a bad option if you don’t mind uprooting your family and moving away from friends.) You can buy an air-purifier, though they may emit ozone which is risky for health.

Or, you can boost your lung health by incorporating these 10 plant-based foods in your diet, effortlessly and cost-effectively. This seems to be the easiest, most straightforward, and cost-effective measure.

Here are the top 10 foods you should be eating for happy lungs:

1. Apples

Apples are full of antioxidants. Apple polyphenols and flavonoids fight cancer, and can prevent spikes in blood sugar. Studies have also shown that apples can lower the risk of asthma and lung cancer. A great plus is that apples give us a healthy dose of vitamin C and fiber.

Remember to eat organic apples and don’t peel their skin – the peel has 6 times the antioxidant power of the meat. Check out a ton of ways to get your apple intake here.

2.  Cantaloupe

 Cantaloupes are an excellent source of vitamin C and A (in the form of carotenoids). High intake of fruits and vegetables containing carotenoids has been associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer.

It is best to eat ripe cantaloupes since they are sweeter and more alkalizing for your body, helping you balance your pH levels.

3. Blueberries

 Known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits, blueberries also contain anthocyanins, vitamin C, vitamin E, and ellagic acid.

Eat your blueberries raw, or try out our Blueberry Acai Super Smoothie.

4. Broccoli

 Broccoli is high in vitamin C, carotenoids, folate, and is a source of phytochemicals, which may have anticancer properties. Studies show that broccoli may lower lung cancer risk in smokers.

I love lightly cooking my broccoli for a minute in simmering water to preserve the vegetable’s texture and taste. Sprinkle some Himalayan salt and you’ve got your lung-happy veggies.

5. Collard Greens

Collard greens, another cruciferous vegetable, are shown to lower cancer risk given their detoxifying properties. These vegetables contain phytonutrients called glucosinolates, which can help activate our bodies’ detoxification enzymes and fight cancer.

Collard greens also contain core antioxidants, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, and kaempferol, that can lower the risk of oxidative stress in our cells, preventing cancer.

6. Kale 

Another member of the cruciferous vegetable family, kale is also known for its anti-cancer properties.

Try these 20 ways to enjoy kale.

7. Ginger

Not only is this spice anti-inflammatory, it is detoxifying and promotes the elimination of pollutants from the lungs.

Ginger molecules may eliminate air pollutants out of air passages, relieve congestion, and improve circulation to the lungs, boosting lung health.

Ginger may also ease asthma.

8. Flaxseeds

A study by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, published in the journal BMC Cancer, showed that a diet of flaxseeds given to mice not only protects lung tissues before exposure to radiation, but can also significantly reduce damage after exposure occurs.

Flaxseeds may be able to lower lung cancer risk, protect lung tissues, and repair lung damages. Given their nutritional benefits, you may want to incorporate flaxseeds into your daily diet.

9. Pumpkins

Pumpkins contain high amount of potassium, panthothenic, magnesium, vitamin C, and E. Pumpkins also contain high amount of carotenoids, which can lower lung cancer risk, as mentioned earlier.

Check out our top 20 cozy pumpkin recipes.

10. Garlic

 A weekly intake of garlic may half the risk of developing lung cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research. Garlic contains flavonoids that stimulate the production of glutathione, which enhances elimination of toxins and carcinogens.

Did you know that you can increase the health benefits of garlic if you let it sit after you’ve chopped it or crushed it?

For a DIY recipe, check out our Roasted Garlic, Miso and Greens Soup.

If you’re worried about stinky breath from garlic, you can always try this anti-oxidant rich alternative.

What are your experiences with these 10 foods? What measures are you taking to improve your lung health? Let us know in the comments!

 Image source: Evan-Amos / Wikimedia Commons

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28 comments on “10 Best Plant-Based Foods for Lung Health”

Click to add comment
Breath Problems
3 Years Ago

GINGER!! Actually it\'s not just good for the lungs but also, good for the voice.

Nicole Lana Lee
20 Apr 2014

Thanks for your input!

Hotaru Seun Shinje
3 Years Ago


Clara Lenahan
3 Years Ago

Gerry TrueLove help me remember this

Donna Marie Arena
3 Years Ago


Amy Mase'
3 Years Ago

Thanks Mom! Debra Anderson Southworth

Lauren Monaghan
3 Years Ago

Ashley Wockner!

Aj Kearns
3 Years Ago


Monique Miklos-Martin
3 Years Ago

Father dear have a read.. Dom !

Dom Martin
07 Apr 2014

Pumpkin & Apple I'll eat

Donna Darko
3 Years Ago

Hannah Robinson

Andrea Hill Fleeman
3 Years Ago

I have asthma that's been worse the past two weeks due to bronchitis. Can't walk more than s few feet without getting dizzy, or even sit up for long. I am all for eating more of these foods.

Clara Lenahan
08 Apr 2014

Hope you feel better soon

Nicole Lana Lee
20 Apr 2014

I am sorry to hear. This article may provide you some dietary tips that can potentially help your situation http://nutritionfacts.org/video/treating-asthma-with-fruits-and-vegetables/. Take care and I trust you\'ll also be consulting with a trusted healthcare provider.

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