Another group of antioxidants known as flavonoids might also be responsible. These compounds found in high amounts in many fruits and vegetables may also have anti-inflammatory effects, helping you breathe easier. This may help explain why the apples and bananas were linked to less lung decline, too.
The association between lung health preservation and tomato, banana, and apple consumption was more evident in former smokers, compared to those who never lit up. This suggests that these antioxidants may possible contribute to lung restoration, helping mitigate the damage to lung tissue caused by smoking, the researchers say.
Related: How to Finally Quit Smoking For Good
This isn’t the first time that scientists have linked what you put on your plate to your lung health: Last March, researchers discovered that people who ate foods containing the most carotenoids—the plant pigments responsible for the orange, red, or yellow hues—were less likely to develop lung cancer. And the effect was even more pronounced in former smokers, too: Guys who lit up in the past and ate the most lycopene, for instance, slashed their risk of developing lung cancer by 52 percent, as we reported.