If you’ve decided to break it off with cigarettes, can you undo the damage caused by smoking? Here’s the latest research…

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers have good news – they found that the natural decline in lung function over a 10-year period was slower among former smokers with a diet high in tomatoes and fruits, especially apples.

This suggests that nutrients in these foods may help restore lung damage caused by smoking.

How many servings a day?

According to the study, adults who ate more than two tomatoes or more than three portions of fresh fruit a day had a slower decline in lung function compared to those who ate less than one tomato or less than one portion of fruit a day.

It works for non-smokers too

Researchers found a slower decline in lung function among all adults – including non-smokers – with the highest tomato consumption.

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“This study shows that diet might help repair lung damage in people who have stopped smoking. It also suggests that a diet rich in fruits can slow down the lung’s natural ageing process even if you have never smoked,” says Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health and the study’s lead author.

The natural decline in lung function over a 10-year period was slower among former smokers with a diet high in tomatoes and fruits

Lung function declines from 30 years of age

Poor lung function has been linked with mortality risks from all diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, and lung cancer.

“Lung function starts to decline at around age 30 at a variable speed depending on the general and specific health of individuals,” explains Garcia-Larsen.

“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. Diet could become one way of combating rising diagnosis of COPD around the world.”

Related: Quit smoking in 3 minutes

People studied for 10 years

The research team assessed diet and lung function of more than 650 adults in 2002. They repeated lung function tests on the same group of participants 10 years later.

Participants from three countries – Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom – completed diet questionnaires and underwent spirometry, a procedure that measures the capacity of lungs to take in oxygen.

Ex-smokers who ate a diet high in tomatoes and fruits had around 80 ml slower decline over the 10-year period. This suggests that nutrients are helping to repair the damage done by smoking.

Source: Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health via www.sciencedaily.com

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