Our diet greatly affects the health of our lungs. After all, the lungs are the organs responsible for the spread of the oxygen we need to live. At the same time, they expel the carbon monoxide that the body does not need.

The effective functioning of the lungs also helps prevent various types of diseases. This happens not only when breathing, but also because the lungs are responsible for filtering toxins and harmful substances that enter the body.

The problem is that since lung tissues are sensitive, their health tends to deteriorate over time. This is especially true if a person is constantly exposed to a polluted environment. Therefore, it is essential to pay attention and adopt habits that help to protect the lungs and optimize their functions.

In this article, we are presenting 25 foods that can help purify and protect the lungs naturally.

Foods to protect and cleanse the lungs

1.      Celery


Celery is a food with moisture-wicking and anti-inflammatory properties. It has the ability to remove fluids that are held in the tissues. At the same time, it is ideal to prevent inflammatory diseases. Eating celery protects the lungs, facilitates respiratory cleaning, and improves the oxygenation process of the cells.

2.     Oregano

Oregano Oil

If your lungs are not the healthiest, you should eat oregano regularly. Oregano contains carvacrol and rosmarinic acid, which have an expectorant and antihistamine effect. You can use oregano in the dried or fresh form as a condiment for your food or you can add a few drops of the oil to your favorite drinks.

3.     Parsley


Parsley is more than a green decorative element for your plate, it is a true medicinal herb and good for the lungs. Not only diuretic, which ensures healthy flushing of the kidneys, parsley is also one of the foods with the highest apigenin content.  

Years ago, scientists found out that this flavonoid compound is a real cancer killer. Interestingly, it targets particularly lung cancer cells. Chinese researchers also found in 2017 that apigenin leaves healthy cells completely alone.

A spoonful of parsley in your soup is therefore one of your best allies against lung cancer.

4.     Pomegranate


Pomegranate has a lot of health benefits, including some for the lungs. In fact, there are more antioxidants in pomegranate juice than green tea or red wine. This abundance of antioxidants can help prevent many lungs diseases.

5.     Carrots


Carrots are in the group of superfoods. They provide important amounts of vitamins A and C. These are all needed to stimulate the repair of tissues and epithelial cells. When consumed, especially raw, they help eliminate toxins that are retained in the lungs, preventing premature deterioration.

6.     Green tea

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Green tea has become popular because of its potential to help people lose weight. It is important to know that it is also beneficial for healthy lungs. This drink offers powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help protect the tissues of the lungs.

7.     Turmeric


Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It has a powerful immune-stimulating and antioxidant effect. Ground turmeric is an excellent remedy for cough.

8.     Grapefruit


Eating citrus fruits is perfect for removing toxins that interfere with the oxidation process of the cells. Low in calories, grapefruit also offers many benefits for lung health. The oxidants that it contains improve cell activity and can prevent malignant tumors.

9.     Garlic

benefits of garlic
benefits of garlic

Garlic is an element that helps to strengthen the bronchi. At the same time, it reduces obstructions that cause respiratory problems. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients that it contains help strengthen the health of the lungs. It also minimizes the deterioration of tissues caused by free radicals.

10.     Ginger


Ginger root contains various compounds that support the function of the lungs. In addition, the ginger root has an anti-inflammatory effect and helps to dissolve mucus from the lungs due to the essential oil it contains.

To benefit from the health benefits of Ginger, it is enough if you drink 2-3 cups of ginger tea daily. The best way to absorb the healthy ingredients is to prepare the tea from grated ginger.

11.     Blueberries


Seasonal berries are extremely useful in general for the body. But blueberries are especially valuable to preserve the health of the lungs. They are famous for their high content of vitamin C, which actively fights diseases affecting the respiratory system, including pneumonia.

12.     Onions

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The sharp smell of onions is unpleasant, but it has a positive effect on lung function. Indeed, the essential oils of onion have an expectorant, disinfectant, and anti-inflammatory effect. Not only can you use onions in food, but you can also make syrup from them yourself. To do this, simply cut open some onions and leave them in a container together with a little sugar for a few hours. You can then use the leaked juice as cough syrup.

13.     Fish

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Fish is particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are effective against inflammation of the lungs. Thanks to this anti-inflammatory action, lung function can be improved by eating fish. High-fat cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids.

14.     Dairy products

Dairy products

Dairy products also support lung function because they are good phosphorus suppliers. Since phosphorus is responsible for oxygen exchange in the body, a deficiency can lead to respiratory problems.

15.     Fiber-rich foods

green leafy vegetables

Dietary fiber allows the body to produce anti-inflammatory fatty acids that protect the lungs from certain diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Fruits, cereals, vegetables, nuts: their consumption would protect the lungs

16.     Broccoli


Whether you are a smoker or not, we probably don’t have to explain to you that smoking is bad for your lungs. If you are thinking of quitting, for this reason, broccoli could be a supportive companion. The secondary plant substance sulforaphane contained in broccoli helps to get the gene NRF2 running again. NRF2 is responsible in the human body for protecting cells from pollutants and toxins. In smokers, the activity of this gene is so greatly reduced that, for example, attacked alveoli recover worse than in a non-smoker.

17.     Tomatoes


If broccoli is not your thing, you can go with tomatoes and apples. Researchers at the Josh Hopkins School of Medicine found that the lungs of those who ate at least two tomatoes and an apple a day recovered significantly better.

In non-smokers, the combination of these two foods also helps to measurably slow down the age-related decline in lung function.

18.     Pumpkin

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The main advantage of pumpkin is the saturation with carotenoids, which have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have linked higher levels of carotenoids in the blood to improved lung function in the elderly and younger people.

19.     Bananas

benefits of bananas
benefits of bananas

Bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral that regulates body fluid and has an antispasmodic effect. And this is also very good for your lungs. If you want to strengthen the lungs with nutrition by supplying the body with potassium, you may of course also resort to other sources of potassium.

Carrots, tomatoes, avocados, kohlrabi, legumes, celery, red peppers, rye, buckwheat, spelled, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews, and almonds as well as organic cocoa and pure vegetable and fruit juices, for example, are ideally suited.

20.     Kiwi


The immune system must be able to withstand an onslaught of viruses and bacteria that affect the respiratory tract and lungs. To strengthen it, the body needs vitamin C. Kiwis are one of the best sources for this. The fruit also contains vitamin E, which enhances the effect of vitamin C.

21.     Beetroots

Health Benefits of Beets

Beetroots have a lot of nitrates, which, as it turned out, help to relax blood vessels, lower the pressure level and establish oxygen absorption. Beet supplements have performed well in improving lung function even in people with chronic obstructive disease.

22.     Yogurt

Yogurt Probiotics

The calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium found in yogurt also work for the benefit of the lungs. This conclusion was reached by scientists who studied groups of Japanese adults. Those who eat enough yogurt every day had a 35 percent lower risk of developing lung disease.

23.     Cocoa and dark chocolate

dark chocolate

Cocoa has a large number of flavonoid antioxidants and theobromine, which helps to relax the airways in the lungs. A study, which involved 55,000 people, found that people with higher flavonoid intake had better lung function.

24.     Brazil nuts

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Brazil nuts are a natural remedy to strengthen the lungs and heart. The lungs are vital organs that need selenium to be able to get rid of toxins. Brazil nuts are the only nuts that provide the dose of selenium the body needs to detoxify itself.

25.     Water

Bottled Water

The elixir of life, without which we simply cannot live, is generally essential for good health. And the lungs are no exception. So, if you want to strengthen the lungs with nutrition, also think about water.

In fact, did you know that the lungs are 80% water? This should be reason enough to drink enough water and keep the body hydrated.

Furthermore, dehydration can lead to asthma. However, you should not overdo it with the water. Under normal circumstances, one should not exceed 3 liters per day, because too much fluid increases the pressure in the blood vessels, which puts a strain on the lungs.

Things to do to keep your lungs healthy

Avoid smoking

Smoking is one of the leading causes of lung cancer and chronic lung diseases like COPD. Not only should you avoid or quit smoking, but you should also stay away from secondhand smoke, especially in closed or poorly ventilated areas.

The lungs begin to heal almost immediately after a person stops smoking. After ten years without tobacco, the risk of developing lung cancer is about half that of a current smoker.

Reduce indoor air pollution

Indoor air pollution can damage the lungs and worsen chronic respiratory conditions like asthma and allergies. To reduce this type of contamination, the following measures are recommended:

  • Use an air filter approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. It should be replaced between 60 and 90 days.
  • Check your home for mold.
  • Test for radon at home, as this radioactive gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking.
  • Avoid using strong chemicals inside the home
  • Wear a special mask when painting or working with strong chemicals so you don’t inhale their fumes.
  • Do not allow people to smoke inside the house.
  • Keep doors and windows closed when the outside air is heavily polluted.

Treat chronic respiratory conditions

Patients with lung diseases, asthma, allergies, and respiratory problems can protect their lungs and avoid complications by maintaining proper communication and following the instructions of the specialist physician.

It is necessary to inform your doctor if symptoms change or worsen, if drugs trigger side effects, or if disease management strategies are not effective.

Avoid air pollution

Outdoor air pollution can make it difficult to breathe and increase the risk of respiratory diseases and lung cancer, especially in people with predispositions or risk factors. To reduce the impact of pollution, the following can be done:

  • Check the air quality index and avoid spending time outdoors when the quality is low.
  • Use a household air filtration system to remove or reduce indoor pollution.
  • Avoid exercising or walking near busy roads or when smog is visible.

Video Summary – Foods to eat to maintain healthy lungs


A healthy lifestyle that avoids allergens, cigarette smoke, and other air pollutants along with a healthy diet is the best way to keep lungs healthy. By consuming the foods mentioned above and adopting preventive measures, it is possible to take care of the health of the lungs and avoid the worsening or chronicity of certain pathologies.

Joseph Mandell

Mandell is currently working towards a medical degree from the University of Central Florida. His main passions include kayaking, playing soccer and tasting good food. He covers mostly science, health and environmental stories for the Scientific Origin.