5 of the Best Foods to Prevent Asthma Symptoms (And 3 That Make It Worse)

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021

Your diet can play a big role in the severity of your asthma symptoms. Here's how to eat to breathe easier.

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Eat: fatty fish

The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids go well beyond protecting against heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cognitive issues; this essential fat may protect against asthma, too. The omega-3s in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna provide an anti-inflammatory effect that can counter bronchial inflammation, a common symptom of asthma attacks. The benefits might even begin before birth: one study at the University of Southampton found that children whose mothers ate salmon twice a week while pregnant were less likely to develop asthma. Try these easy ways to eat more omega-3 foods.

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Eat: berries and green leafy vegetables

Berries and leafy greens like spinach contain large doses of vitamin C, which is known to promote a healthy immune system and reduce wheezing in children. Aim for a rainbow of fruits and veggies to get the most of their protective effects. Here’s how to eat more vegetables without even trying.


Drink: milk

Not only is milk a great source of calcium, but it is also rich in magnesium, an asthma-fighting mineral also found in flax seeds. Magnesium relaxes the muscles surrounding the bronchi, which keeps your airways open, Colleen Pierre, RD, told Parents. Here are more neat ways to use milk.

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Eat: carrots

Carrots aren’t just good for eye health—they could also protect against exercise-induced asthma, according to Health. That’s because they’re loaded with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that’s converted to vitamin A in the body, which boosts the immune system against asthma attacks. The more vivid the color of the carrot, the higher the levels of this important carotenoid.

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Eat: avocados

As if you needed another reason to add avocados to your diet, here’s one more: they contain an important antioxidant called glutathione, which guards your lungs against airway stress and tissue damage. Even better, they’re packed with heart-healthy fats, which can lower bad cholesterol and boost good cholesterol levels. Here are more powerhouse benefits of avocados.


Skip: fast food

You know takeout is bad for your waistline, but it’s also an enemy of your lungs. An international study of nearly 2 million children observed a link between fast food consumption and asthma risk, according to the British Medical Journal. Three or more weekly servings of fast food were found to increase the risk of severe asthma by 39 percent for teens and 27 percent for children. Researchers speculate that this is because of the high levels of saturated and trans fats found in fast food, which can weaken the immune system. (Here’s more on what you need to know about asthma in children.)


Skip: wine, dried fruits, or instant soups and potatoes

Wine, dried fruits, dehydrated or instant soup mixes, and instant potatoes all contain sulfites, which act as a preservative and can trigger asthma attacks and lead to anaphylaxis in people who are hypersensitive to it. It’s also a good idea to avoid salicylate, another compound that’s found in dried fruits and processed foods, as they are known to trigger attacks, too. Here are more surprising asthma triggers you can smartly avoid.


Skip: cheese and mushrooms

If you are allergic to mildew or molds, it may be smart to avoid foods such as cheese, mushrooms, and hot dogs, as the mold present in these products might trigger an asthma attack the same way spending time in a moldy room could. Consumption of fermented foods like soy sauce, beer, wine, and vinegar should also be carefully monitored. Make sure to read ingredient labels thoroughly and notify restaurant personnel when eating out.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest