(HealthDay News) — Eating lots of fruits and vegetables may help current and former smokers avoid chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study published online Feb 22 in Thorax.

The new 13-year study involved 44,335 Swedish men between the ages of 45 and 79. Nearly two-thirds (62.8%) had smoked at some point. Roughly one-quarter (24.3%) still smoked, while nearly 4 in 10 (38.5%) said they had never smoked. The men filled out food questionnaires and answered questions about smoking and other behaviors. Over the study period, 1,981 new cases of COPD developed.

Analyzing the data, the study team determined that regardless of smoking history those who ate 5 or more servings of certain fruits and vegetables a day were 35% less likely to develop COPD than those who consumed just 2 servings daily. Among former smokers, each additional serving was tied with a 4% lower risk of COPD. In current smokers, each extra serving was linked to an 8 percent lower risk. Not all fruits and vegetables were deemed protective. Bananas, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and peas did not appear to lower COPD risk.

“Clinicians should consider the potential benefits of a healthy diet in promoting lung health, and advocate optimizing intake of fruits and vegetables, especially in smokers who are unable to stop smoking,” write the authors of an editorial accompanying the study.


  1. Kaluza J, Larsson SC, Orsini N, et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of COPD: a prospective cohort study of men. Thorax. 22 February 2017. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2015-207851