An important part of the respiratory system, the lungs play the role of extracting oxygen from the environment and transfer it to the bloodstream. As this incoming oxygen enters the blood, carbon dioxide, which is a waste gas from the metabolism, leaves the blood.
Healthy lungs help us in achieving approximately 7 million breaths in one year. Yet, no matter how significant every breath we take, we tend to ignore the importance of our lungs, exposing it to cigarette smoke and air pollutants.
Other factors that threatened the health of our lungs are oxidative stress and infections.
To combat the harmful effects of oxidative stress, certain foods should be eliminated such as sugar-laden foods, oily foods, and non-organic foods laden with pesticides.
On the other hand, the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society concluded a study that showed the correlation between a high fiber diet and lower risk of COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
COPD, which encompasses a wide range of lung conditions, is the third highest cause of deaths in the world. Under this light, the following nutrients in foods are considered useful in promoting the health of our lungs.
1. Beta-carotene in pumpkin and sweet potatoes.
Beta-carotene is a primary component in most plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables. This carotenoid is converted into vitamin A, an important nutrient for lung health.
Aside from pumpkin and sweet potatoes, beta-carotene can also be found in apricots, broccoli, carrots, cantaloupe, mangoes, and red peppers.
2. Vitamin C in oranges.
As part of the citrus family, oranges are rich in vitamin C, which promotes a better functioning of the lungs. Vitamin C also helps lower the risk of developing lung cancer and other related conditions.
Other fruits and veggies rich in vitamin C are broccoli, brussels, sprouts, green and red peppers, kiwi fruit, potatoes, and tomatoes.
3. Folate in dark leafy greens.
Folate, known as folic acid, folacin, and vitamin B9, is a type of B vitamin that helps prevent various forms of COPD like asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.
Folate is used to treat anemia that is caused by folic acid deficiency. When left untreated, anemia may lead to lung cancer.
Foods high in folate are okra, artichoke, spinach, turnip greens, broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, potatoes, beets, avocado, papaya, and orange juice.
4. Hemoglobin boosters like beans and lentils.
Healthy hemoglobin levels are essential in optimizing the transportation of oxygen to the lungs.
Hemoglobin, a protein molecule found in red blood cells, transports oxygen from the lungs to body tissue and stimulates the internal processes that return carbon dioxide back to the lungs to be expelled from the body.
Natural sources of hemoglobin include black beans, cowpeas, dried peas, lentils, red kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and soybeans.
To maximize the absorption of iron, a supplementation of vitamin C rich foods is recommended.
5. Antioxidants in dark chocolate
An enormous amount of antioxidants is found in dark chocolate. Antioxidants counteract cell damage caused by oxidation, which is a catalyst for many diseases and disorders related to the lungs.
We can source antioxidants from blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, plums, strawberries, artichokes and red kidney beans