If you’re having trouble kicking the tobacco habit, you might want to consider boosting your intake of fruits and vegetables. Researchers aren't sure why, but eating more fruits and veggies helps people quit smoking.
People who eat more fruits and vegetables were found in a University of Buffalo study to be 3 times more likely to quit smoking and remain tobacco free after 30 days.
What’s in fruits and vegetables that helps people stop smoking?
Researchers for the study say there are several reasons fruits and vegetables help people with smoking cessation.
It might be just that their habits change. Fruits and vegetables don’t typically trigger a desire for nicotine like coffee, alcohol and meats that enhance the flavor of tobacco. The authors of the study suggest that, fruits and vegetables make cigarettes taste worse.
Jeffrey P. Haibach, MPH, first author on the paper and graduate research assistant in the UB Department of Community Health and Health Behavior said in a press release, "It is also possible that fruits and vegetables give people more of a feeling of satiety or fullness so that they feel less of a need to smoke, since smokers sometimes confuse hunger with an urge to smoke."
Another explanation might be fruits and vegetables provide fiber in the diet that helps smokers feel full.
Adding a variety of fruits and vegetables to your diet that should be consumed throughout the day will also lower your risk of colorectal cancer, improve lung health and help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Studies show apples and tomatoes are especially beneficial for improving lung health. Apples contain the antioxidant quercitin, a substance also found in onions that promotes lung health by decreasing susceptibility to respiratory ailments, wheezing and asthma.
The lung health benefits of eating apples and tomatoes was highlighted in 2001 when Nottingham University researchers tested lung capacity in adults who had problems with wheezing and asthma.
The researchers found that individuals who ate a tomato at least every other day, or more than 5 apples a week, had greater lung capacity. You can read about the study, which was reported at BBC news here.
Apples can also help curb heart disease and thwart cancer, according to a 2005 Cornell University study. Lead author Rui Hai Lui concluded eating apples “may be an effective strategy for cancer protection”.
The new finding showing smokers are more likely to quit when they eat more fruits and veggies, published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, is observational.
The researchers say more studies are needed to better understand how dietary habits impact tobacco use.
Researchers know people who abstain from tobacco eat more fruits and vegetables, but until now they weren’t sure if smoking cessation leads to higher consumption of healthy foods or if people who eat more fruits and vegetables are just more likely to stop smoking.
If you’re trying to quit smoking, or are fighting to stay tobacco free, consider keeping a tray of fruits and veggies ready for munching.
Even though no one knows exactly why eating healthy foods can help people stop smoking, the study, which included telephone surveys of 1,000 smokers aged 25 and older from around the United States, suggests boosting your fruit and vegetable intake just might work to curb nicotine cravings. Past studies show antioxidants in veggies and fruits can also improve lung health for people with asthma, wheezing and other respiratory ailments, in addition to possibly lowering your chances of lung cancer that can occur in non-smokers too.