Adults who eat more than two tomatoes a day have a slower rate of natural lung function decline, with ex-smokers seeming to benefit the most, scientists said yesterday.

Similar benefits, they said, were observed for people who ate more than three portions of fresh fruit a day, especially apples.

“This study shows that diet might help repair lung damage in people who have stopped smoking,” study co-author Vanessa Garcia-Larsen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said.

“It also suggests that a diet rich in fruits can slow down the lung’s natural ageing process even if you have never smoked.”

In the study published in the European Respiratory Journal, researchers analysed data from 680 people in Germany, Britain and Norway, who signed up for a health survey in 2002.

Participants answered a questionnaire and underwent two types of lung-function tests at the beginning and then 10 years later.

Other factors, such as the participants’ age, height, weight, gender, income and level of physical activity, were taken into account in analysing any association between diet and lung health, the team said.

They found that the rate of lung decline, which happens normally in people from about the age of 30, was slower in those who ate more tomatoes and other fruits.

Among former smokers, the link was “even more striking,” implying their diet was helping to repair damage done by tobacco, the team said.

The effect was observed only with fresh fruit and vegetables, not processed.


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