Ex-smokers may be able to benefit from a diet high in certain fruits.

A recent study from Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health found that former smokers who ate diets high in fruit, especially tomatoes and apples, had a slower natural decline in lung function than those who ate less than one serving of fruit per day.

The study also found that certain components in these fruits may help restore damage to the lungs from smoking.

New Year. New Food. Healthy eating starts here, with the Cooking Light Diet.

Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, assistant professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of International Health and the study's lead author, told Science Daily, "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 aging process even if you have never smoked.”

Most people’s lungs mature around age 25, and after that, our lung function steadily declines—however, this study found that regularly eating fruits such as tomatoes and apples could help slow that decline and combat against lung-related diseases like COPD.

Now, this isn’t a free hall pass to light up, then eat an apple and pretend like everything is ok. Smoking is still linked to a ton of problems beyond lung disease. But if you are a former smoker, it may be worth adding an extra serving or two of fruit—and maybe that saying about an apple a day was right.

Journal Reference:

1. Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, James F. Potts, Ernst Omenaas, Joachim Heinrich, Cecilie Svanes, Judith Garcia-Aymerich, Peter G. Burney, Deborah L. Jarvis. Dietary antioxidants and ten-year lung function decline in adults from the ECRHS survey. European Respiratory Journal, December 2017 DOI: 10.1183/13993003.02286-2016