CBS Local — People whose New Year’s resolution was to quit smoking are getting some new diet advise as well. A new study says that eating apples and tomatoes may be the key to reversing the damage done to a smoker’s lungs.

According to a decade-long study of ex-smokers in Europe, people who quit and ate at least two tomatoes or three servings of apples every day had stronger lung function than participants who only had one serving per day. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland started studying 650 people from Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom in 2002. 10 years later, the group was examined again to see how their diet had affected their lung power since giving up cigarettes.

“This study shows that diet might help repair lung damage in people who have stopped smoking. It also suggests that a diet rich in fruits can slow down the lung’s natural aging process even if you have never smoked,” the study’s lead author Vanessa Garcia-Larsen said in the school’s release. Scientists at Johns Hopkins added that poor lung function has been linked to several life-threatening diseases like COPD, heart disease, and lung cancer.

“Lung function starts to decline at around age 30 at variable speed depending on the general and specific health of individuals,” Garcia-Larsen explained. “Our study suggests that eating more fruits on a regular basis can help attenuate the decline as people age, and might even help repair damage caused by smoking.”

According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the number of people who have kicked the habit now outnumbers the amount of current smokers in America. HHS says nearly 50 million people have given up smoking and begun their road to recovery.

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