Environmental factors, such as air pollution and mold, can affect your breathing even if you don't suffer from a diagnosed lung condition, such as asthma, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or pneumonia. People with lung conditions aren't able to efficiently get oxygen from the air into their lungs and bloodstream. Adding blueberries to your diet can help protect your lungs from damage. And it doesn't hurt that they taste delicious.
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Breathing in air pollution from cigarette smoke or car exhaust produces free radicals in your body, which can damage your cells and put you at risk for chronic disease and early aging. Antioxidants scour these free radicals and rid them from your body. Blueberries are one of the richest antioxidant fruits, containing the polyphenols anthocyanidin and the flavonoids beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants protect your lungs from cancer, disease and infection.
Adult women need 1.8 milligrams of manganese a day. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, however, only 37 percent of Americans get the recommended amount of manganese in their diets. One cup of blueberries contains 0.5 milligram, or 25 percent of the recommended dietary allowance of this mineral. Manganese is essential for the production of superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant enzyme in the body. When your body produces energy through normal metabolism, it also produces the superoxide radical, which can damage your cells. Superoxide dismutase reduces the superoxide free radical to water, thereby preventing it from causing damage.
One cup of blueberries contains 24 percent of the recommended intake of vitamin C, which protects your lungs by acting as an antioxidant and helping you maintain a healthy immune system. It also promotes the production of white blood cells, which defend your lungs against inflammation and help repair damaged lung tissue. Blueberries also contain small amounts of vitamins E and A, both of which possess antioxidant activity.
Blueberries in Your Diet
To incorporate blueberries into your diet, add them to cereal or oatmeal in the morning. Mix them with plain Greek yogurt for an afternoon snack. Top salads with them or add them to chicken salad for a little bit of sweetness. Try to purchase your blueberries fresh, but if they’re not in season, opt for frozen ones. Blend frozen blueberries with skim or soy milk for a delicious smoothie.
Michelle Fisk began writing professionally in 2011. She has been published in the "Physician and Sports Medicine Journal." Her expertise lies in the fields of exercise physiology and nutrition. Fisk holds a Master of Science in kinesiology from Marywood University.