While most of the health world is focused on supporting and improving our immune system — not to be discounted — how many of us have turned our attention towards our lungs?
Of course, this is somewhat relevant in light of COVID-19 — a virus that has been more severe for those with lung-related issues — yet the health of your lungs is crucial to a healthy body, pandemic or no pandemic.
What’s the key to healthy lungs? Capacity!
Lung capacity refers to the “total amount of air that your lungs can hold” and, as we age, this capacity decreases. Connecting the dots … healthy lungs with brimming capacity also have the ability to transport more oxygen throughout the body, which happens to be an essential nutrient for your organs, brain, and … well … your entire body.
Luckily, even though you can’t stop the decline of age, there are ways that you can support and nurture your lungs to improve their capacity and therefore increase their overall health. This includes breathing techniques, — such as diaphragmatic breathing, pursed-lips breathing, and deep breathing — regular exercise, quitting smoking, improving your indoor air quality (think adding filters and reducing pollutants), and eating the right lung-nourishing foods!
Lung-heartening foods share certain components such as higher antioxidant content, more anti-inflammatory properties, healthy fats, vitamin D and C-rich foods, natural decongestants, and fiber-rich complex carbs. Here are 15 recipes to help support your new path to healthier lungs!
We also highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help you get healthy! And, don’t forget to check out our Whole Foods Archives!
One of the best ingredients for healthy lungs is garlic due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. This Rosemary-Garlic Chickpea Flatbread recipe by Amanda Froelich is not only comforting but also rich in garlic and fiber-rich ground flax.
When it comes to this Ultimate Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwich recipe by Emily von Euw, it’s not necessarily about the innards that make it lung-boosting, but the bread! Choosing a healthy complex carb-based bread — such as sprouted whole grain bread — will load your body with “fiber and ore anti-inflammatory” ingredients.
This Mushroom and Walnut Ravioli with Creamy Garlic Sauce recipe by Stephanie Davies not only has anti-inflammatory garlic, but it’s also loaded with lung-loving vitamin D-rich mushroom and healthy fat-filled walnuts. When it comes to those healthy fats, they happen to have the “lowest carbon dioxide load during metabolism,” which is great for your lungs, plus vitamin D “can boost the immune system and reduce airway inflammation.”
This Norwegian Apple Soup recipe by Lydia Filgueras is great to have on hand for those days you’re not feeling quite up to par! Plus, it’s based around apples, which “have the ability to help slow the natural decline in the lung functions” and have been shown to “play a role in helping to repair … lungs.”
Tomatoes have shown the same lung-boosting powers as apples, plus they’re rich in antioxidants, “which may be important in protecting the lungs from the harmful effects of atmospheric pollutants.” This Fusilli With Heirloom Tomatoes recipe by Adam Merrin and Ryan Alvarez is the perfect light, yet filling tomato and pasta-based recipe!
Get into the almost summer mode with this Mushroom Carnitas Tacos with Cilantro Lime Crema recipe by Desiree Rodriguez. Tasty, fresh, light, and filling, this recipe is also rich in vitamin D-filled mushrooms to help give your immune system and the health of your lungs a boost!
Green tea truly is one of the healthiest ingredients you can ingest! When it comes to your lungs, green tea — or its powerfully potent powder form matcha — “acts like a natural antihistamine and slows down the release of histamines, reduces inflammation and protects the lungs from irritation” due to high levels of antioxidants, such as quercetin. This Raw Green Tea Matcha Lemon Cheesecake recipe by Tiana Haines
Vitamin C truly is the all-encompassing immune booster, yet research has also found that this lucky vitamin may also “provide protection against COPD [and it] might have a protective effect against lung cancer.” Basically, vitamin C is all-around good for your lungs! This Sticky Orange Sesame Tofu recipe by Patrica Granek is drenched in a wonderful orange juice and sesame-based sauce!
Many of us oftentimes forget that pumpkin is filled with vitamin C. If you’re looking to mix things up with a lung-boosting component, try this Creamy Pumpkin Sage Soup recipe by Kristen Genton, which is also infused with anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial garlic, onion, and antioxidant-rich sage.
Flaxseed is one of the richest plant-based (and non-plant-based) sources of dietary fiber. Yet, it’s also an excellent source of omega fatty acids, which are great for lung health due to their low carbon dioxide load on the metabolism. Ground flaxseed is the perfect ingredient for vegan baking such as in this Banana Peanut Butter Breakfast Muffins recipe by Chinmayie Bhat!
While focusing on one ingredient at a time is a great way to start, once you get the hang of it try mixing and matching to the get the most bang for your lung health buck! This Lasagna with Spinach and Mushrooms recipe by Nikki Stokes provides a dose of vitamin D-rich mushroom and overall health-boosting spinach! Dark leafy greens — like spinach! — are anti-inflammatory powerhouses and they “protect the lungs from inflammation and infection.”
This Baked Broccoli Burgers recipe by Nikki Haney is a great way to your diet with the superfood that is broccoli! When it comes to boosting the health of your lungs, broccoli is rich in a “substance called L-sulforaphane, which turns on anti-inflammatory genes” and can protect your lungs from inflammation.
Chili is an excellent way to use those leftovers in your fridge to good advantage! Plus, it gives you an opportunity to use cayenne pepper, which has a component called capsaicin known to “protect mucous membranes in the lungs by stimulating healthy secretions. This Best Vegan Chili recipe by Hannah Sunderani holds its end of the bargain as it’s loaded with veggies, spices, and beans, but cuts sugary and processed add-ons.
Ginger is that one must-have ingredient to always keep in your natural medicine cabinet. It’s a “natural decongestant that helps to clear up clogged air passages and improve circulation in the lungs.” This Carrot Ginger Soup with Curried Raisin Relish recipe by Nikki and Zuzana is a unique combination of savory and spicy ginger mixed with naturally sweet raisin!
Lung health also has to do with proper hydration as “your lungs utilize water to keep your airways clean and clear of mucous and inflammatory build-up.” While water is definitely the best choice, try sprinkling other health-boosting beverages into your regimen throughout the day such as this Healing Turmeric Golden Juice recipe by Celeste Meredith, which is infused with liquid and anti-inflammatory turmeric!
Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects.
For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Here are some great resources to get you started:
- Weekly Vegan Meal Plans
- Plant-Based Health Resources
- Plant-Based Food & Recipes
- Plant-Based Nutrition Resources
- The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
- Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Recipes
- High Protein Plant-Based Recipes
- Plant-Based Meal Prep
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