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Eating More Fruits and Vegetables Shown to Ease Asthma

A new study has found a surprising way to ease asthma: increasing antioxidant intake by consuming more fruits and vegetables. Participants in the study who consumed a high-antioxidant diet showed improvements in lung capacity and a decrease in the speed of onset of an asthma attack.

137 asthmatic adults took part in the study. Over the course of 14 days, half of the group consumed a high-antioxidant diet and the other half consumed a low-antioxidant diet. For 14 days following the diet intervention, the high-antioxidant group also consumed a placebo while the low-antioxidant group took a lycopene-rich tomato extract supplement.

The high-antioxidant diet consisted of meals that matched the daily recommendation of fruit and vegetable consumption for Americans and Europeans: five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit daily. The low-antioxidant diet mirrored what the majority of people actually tend to eat: two servings of vegetables and one of fruit.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted lower lung function and faster onset of an asthma attack in the low-antioxidant group when compared to the high-antioxidant group. The low-antioxidant group was also 2.3 more times likely to have an asthma attack than the high-antioxidant group.

No benefit was seen when participants’ blood levels of antioxidants were increased using the lycopene-rich tomato extract supplement. This suggests that whole foods are the best source of antioxidant interventions.

The research was conducted at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia and published online ahead of print on August 1, 2012, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


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