Top 10 Foods That Fight Inflammation in the Lungs

Top 10 Foods That Fight Inflammation in the Lungs

by | Updated: May 3, 2024

Inflammation plays an important role in protecting our lungs from infection, injury, and irritation. However, too much inflammation is linked to various chronic diseases, including those that affect the lungs.

There are many ways to reduce lung inflammation, including medication, exercise, and avoiding triggers. However, diet is also an important factor.

In this article, we will look at foods that are packed with anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce lung inflammation.

Foods to Reduce Lung Inflammation

  1. Flaxseeds
  2. Pumpkin
  3. Turmeric
  4. Citrus fruits
  5. Tomatoes
  6. Green tea
  7. Olive oil
  8. Berries
  9. Swiss chard
  10. Anchovies
Top 10 Foods to Decrease Inflammation in the Lungs

1. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are a popular superfood high in fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. All of these nutrients play a role in reducing inflammation in the body.

Unfortunately, the diet of most adults is rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which are unhealthy properties common in vegetable oils and processed foods. These negatively affect our body systems and can lead to chronic inflammation.

For this reason, it’s important to include foods in your diet that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like flaxseeds. Omega-3s have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including those that affect the lungs.

2. Pumpkin

Believe it or not, pumpkins are good for more than decorations during the fall season. This orange squash is packed with carotenoids and antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory effects.

Researchers found that individuals with higher levels of carotenoids in their system had better overall lung function. This is likely due to the fact that carotenoids help to protect cells from damage caused by inflammation.

Pumpkins are also high in vitamin A, which is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps maintain the mucus membranes in the lungs. This is essential for protecting against viruses, bacteria, and foreign invaders.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a popular spice well-known for its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. The active component in turmeric is curcumin, which researchers believe is responsible for its health benefits.

Curcumin has been shown to improve lung function and reduce inflammation in the airways. It may also protect the lungs from damage caused by pollution and smoking.

In fact, studies found that curcumin intake resulted in improved lung function in healthy adults. It was also shown to be beneficial in smokers, who are at an increased risk of lung disease.

Turmeric is typically used as a spice while cooking, but it can also be taken in supplement form. However, it’s important to speak with your doctor before taking any supplements.

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4. Citrus fruits

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can boost your immune system and decrease the risk of chronic diseases. Everyone knows citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C, which is why they’re often recommended to those who feel under the weather.

But did you know that vitamin C can also have profound benefits on your respiratory system?

 Vitamin C consumption is believed to help prevent lung inflammation, but some researchers believe it may even reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. So, do your lungs and overall health a favor by incorporating more citrus fruits into your diet.

5. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are another food rich in antioxidants and nutrients that offer anti-inflammatory benefits. The most potent antioxidant in tomatoes is lycopene, which is responsible for their red color.

Lycopene is a carotenoid that has been shown to decrease inflammation and improve lung function. It’s also believed to reduce airway inflammation in obstructive lung conditions, such as asthma and COPD.

Tomatoes are often consumed cooked, which makes the lycopene more bioavailable. However, raw tomatoes are also a healthy option and can be added to salads or used as a topping on your favorite sandwich.

6. Green tea

Green tea is a healthy beverage rich in antioxidants, including catechins and flavonoids. These nutrients have been shown to offer anti-inflammatory effects and protect cells from damage.

Green tea is also a good source of theanine, an amino acid that has calming effects on the body. This can be beneficial for those with lung conditions that are exacerbated by stress, such as asthma.

Some researchers believe that green tea consumption is associated with improved lung function in patients with pulmonary fibrosis. This is a chronic condition characterized by scarring of lung tissue, which makes it difficult to breathe.

You can enjoy green tea as a hot or cold beverage. However, it does contain caffeine, so it’s best to consume it in moderation if you’re sensitive to this stimulant.

7. Olive oil

Olive oil is a widely-recognized superfood around the world. It’s rich in healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals that offer a multitude of health benefits.

It’s high in vitamin E and polyphenols, which are antioxidants that scavenge harmful toxins and protect cells from damage. These nutrients also have anti-inflammatory effects, making olive oil a great choice for those with lung conditions.

Studies found that olive oil consumption may actually lower the risk of developing asthma. Some researchers even believe that it can improve lung function in smokers and in those with asthma and COPD.

8. Berries

Berries are small fruits that pack a big nutritional punch. They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can benefit your overall health in many ways.

The antioxidants in berries, such as anthocyanins, have been shown to offer anti-inflammatory effects. This makes them a good choice for those who are conscious about reducing inflammation in their lungs.

Berries are also a good source of fiber. This nutrient is important for gut health, which can have an indirect impact on lung function. A healthy gut microbiome has been linked to improved respiratory health and higher resistance to unwanted symptoms that stem from lung infections.

9. Swiss chard

Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that’s often overlooked in favor of more popular options, such as kale and spinach. But this nutrient-dense vegetable is worth adding to your diet for its many health benefits.

Swiss chard is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as antioxidants like polyphenols and flavonoids. These nutrients offer anti-inflammatory effects and help protect cells from damage.

This vegetable is also a good source of magnesium, which is a mineral that has been shown to help relax the smooth muscle tissue in the airways of the lungs. This is known as bronchodilation, which increases the diameter of the airways, making it easier to breathe.

Researchers also found that a magnesium deficiency was associated with worsening symptoms in patients with COPD. Leafy green consumption is also believed to reduce the risk of lung cancer.

10. Anchovies

Anchovies are small, oily fish that are often used as a flavor enhancer in many popular dishes. But these little fish pack a big nutritional punch and offer numerous health benefits.

Anchovies are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. As previously mentioned, these nutrients have anti-inflammatory effects and can benefit the entire respiratory system.

Anchovies are also high in other beneficial nutrients, such as iron, calcium, and selenium. They’re a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food that’s worth adding to your diet for the many health benefits they have to offer.

Final Thoughts

As previously mentioned, inflammation is a natural part of the body’s immune response. It is important in healing injuries and fighting off foreign invaders and microorganisms.

However, when it persists in the body, it becomes chronic inflammation, which has been linked to several health conditions, including asthma, COPD, and lung cancer.

Certain foods have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory effects, which can help reduce inflammation in our body systems. This, in turn, also reduces the risk of developing chronic lung diseases.

The are several foods that can reduce inflammation, including the ones listed above. Each food is nutrient-dense and offers a variety of other health benefits, making them a great addition to any diet. Thanks for reading!

John Landry, BS, RRT

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.


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