It seems the good news about fruits and vegetables just won't stop -- a new study suggests that a high consumption of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and beta carotene improves lung function. And it appears that such antioxidants may improve lung function in both smokers and nonsmokers, according to the report presented April 21 at the Experimental Biology '98 meeting in San Francisco.
Indeed, intake of the antioxidants may help protect against chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) -- such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema -- although the study did not specifically look at people with such lung ailments.
The most important message is that diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been repeatedly shown to lower the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer, but very few studies have considered whether such diets may protect lung function or decrease risks of COPD. This study does show that consuming more antioxidant is associated with better lung function.
The difference between those two groups and their lung function is approximately equivalent to the difference between a group of nonsmokers and a group of smokers who have smoked a pack a day for 10 years. Beta carotene had less of an effect on lung function in smokers compared to nonsmokers, but the antioxidant selenium was more protective in smokers than nonsmokers.
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
One can now add improvement of lung function as one of the documented benefits of a healthy diet.