Apples and tomatoes slow the decline of the lungs' functionality as we age, and they can even repair the damage caused by smoking, researchers have discovered.
Eating two tomatoes or up to three portions of fruit—and especially apples—every day slows the lungs' decline among ex-smokers, and it helps non-smokers from developing respiratory problems and lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), say researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
But don't think it's a problem of old age. Lung function starts to deteriorate when you're 30, and it's something that should be taken seriously as it's even been linked to chronic non-respiratory problems such as heart disease and some cancers.
The researchers monitored the breathing capacity of 650 people first in 2002 and again in 2012, and analysed their eating habits. There was a striking difference between the breathing capacity of those who ate two tomatoes or three portions of fruit and those who ate less or none at all—and the difference was even more marked among ex-smokers.
The tomatoes and fruit had to be fresh; similar results weren't seen with processed equivalents, such as tomato ketchup, the researchers say.