THURSDAY, Dec. 21, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Intake of fruits and tomatoes may delay decline in lung function, especially in former smokers, according to a study published in the Dec. 1 issue of the European Respiratory Journal.

Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, Ph.D., from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues surveyed adults from three participating countries of the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. Participants underwent spirometry measures, which were repeated 10 years later. Food frequency questionnaires were used to estimate dietary intake at baseline. Data were included for 680 individuals (baseline mean age, 43.8±6.6 years).

The researchers found that a per-tertile increase in apple and banana intake was correlated with a slower decline in forced expiratory volume in one second and forced vital capacity (FVC) of 3.59 mL/year and 3.69 mL/year, respectively. There was also a correlation for tomato intake with slower decline in FVC (4.5 mL/year). After the Simes' procedure was performed, only the correlation with tomato intake remained significant. In ex-smokers, apple, banana, and tomato intake all were correlated with slower decline in FVC.

"In conclusion, our study suggests that dietary factors might play a role in preserving ventilatory function in adults, by slowing down a decline in lung function," the authors write. "In particular, dietary antioxidants possibly contribute to restoration, following damage caused by exposure to smoking, among adults who have quit."

Abstract/Full Text