Asthma and Your Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid

May Help: Fruits and Veggies

There’s no specific asthma diet that can get rid of your breathing troubles. But certain foods may have benefits. Fruits and veggies are a good place to start. They’re full of chemicals called antioxidants like beta carotene and vitamins E and C. These help stop particles called “free radicals” that damage cells and could inflame and irritate your lungs.


May Help: Vitamin D

You get most of it from sunshine, but it’s also in some foods. The top choice is fatty fish like salmon and swordfish, followed by milk, eggs, and orange juice, which are often “fortified” with vitamin D. The nutrient strengthens the response of the immune system — your body’s defense against germs — and could lessen swelling in your airways. Having low vitamin D levels can lead to more asthma attacks.


May Help: Nuts and Seeds

They’ve got lots of good things in them, but one in particular that might be good for asthma is vitamin E. Almonds, hazelnuts, and raw seeds are good sources, as well as cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale. Vitamin E has tocopherol, a chemical that could help cut how much you cough and wheeze from your asthma.


May Hurt: Dried Fruit


There are some foods you may want to avoid if you have asthma, and dried fruits are among them. Though fresh fruit, especially oranges and apples, can help control your asthma, the sulfites that help preserve dried fruit could make the condition worse for some people. Alcohol (especially red wine), shrimp, pickled vegetables, maraschino cherries, and bottled lemon juice also often have sulfites.


May Hurt: Beans

photo of baked beans

It’s all about the gas they give some people. It can bloat your belly and make it harder to breathe. It may even trigger an asthma attack. Beans are the most famous candidate. Soak them for a few hours and change the water a couple or so times to lessen this effect. Other gassy culprits are garlic, onions, fried foods, and carbonated drinks.


May Hurt: Coffee

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Salicylates are chemicals that occur naturally in coffee, tea, herbs, spices, and even in anti-inflammatory pills, like aspirin. Though most people don’t react to them, they could make it harder to breathe, especially if you already have asthma. You may be able to improve these symptoms if you cut as many as you can from your diet.


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