Affecting one in 10 American children, asthma is the leading cause of missed school days. Fortunately, a recent study of Spanish children suggests that increasing intake of cucumber, tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini could reduce the severity of asthmatic symptoms by 62-81%. Researchers from the University of Crete monitored the diets and respiratory health of 460 kids, from birth to when they were 6 years old.
They found significant reductions in wheezing among those children who ate “fruity vegetables” — so called because they are botanically classified as fruits, though generally regarded as vegetables. The quantities needed to provide a benefit were relatively modest: 1/2 cup cucumber slices (w/peel), 2 slices of a medium tomato, 1/2 cup cooked eggplant, or 4 slices of zucchini. For a delicious way to incorporate cucumbers, try our Pineapple Gazpacho, featured on Dole TV.
Aside from “fruity vegetables,” what about fruit itself? Previous research has found that kids who eat just one banana a day have a 34% lower chance of developing asthma symptoms. Pineapple too, may reduce the inflammation associated with asthma, thanks to its enzyme bromelain. Overall, fruit-based fiber may forestall respiratory problems later in life.
Bonus: Kids will breathe more easily by bypassing burgers, according to one New Zealand study which found that 75% of kids who ate even one hamburger a week were 100% more likely to experience wheezing problems. Swap the meat for fish, which could reduce your child’s allergy-related wheezing by 57%.
Published June 1, 2009