Eat more fruit and veggies to reduce asthma risk

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 October, 2007, 12:00am

Scientists suggest that some foods may be useful in the fight against allergies

Eating more tomatoes, eggplant, cucumber, green beans and zucchini can reduce children's risk of asthma, according to a Spanish study published in the September issue of medical journal Paediatric Allergy and Immunology.

Researchers at the University of Crete, Greece studied 460 children aged six and a half. They found that those who ate more than 40g a day of fruity vegetables - that is, those that grow from a blossom on a vine grown from a seed - and more than 60g of fish every day were less likely to suffer from wheezing, eczema and other allergies during childhood.

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases affecting children all over the world. It affects the airways or tubes that carry air into and out of our lungs. If you have asthma, the inside of these tubes become swollen which makes them sensitive to pollutants and irritants.

As a result, your airways become narrower and less air gets through to your lungs, this causes symptoms like wheezing (a whistling sound as you breathe), coughing, and tightness in your chest.

A study published in this month's British Medical Journal reported that 5.8 per cent of 10-year-olds in Hong Kong had suffered from wheezing compared to 3.8 per cent in Beijing and 3.4 per cent in Guangzhou. Recent studies among adults in London and Australia found that eating more vegetables and fruit particularly, apples and pears, reduced the likelihood of asthma.

What counts as a serving?


1 whole fruit e.g. a medium apple, banana, peach or orange

1/2 grapefruit

1/4 medium honeydew or cantaloupe melon

1/4 cup* dried fruit

1/2 cup cut up fruit

1/2 cup raspberries, blueberries

5 large strawberries

12 grapes

11 cherries

1 kiwi fruit

1/8 medium avocado

1/2 medium mango

1/2 medium papaya

3/4 cup 100% fruit juice


1/2 cup cooked or chopped raw vegetables

1 cup raw leafy salad vegetables

6-8 carrot sticks (3 inches in length)

3 broccoli florets

1/3 medium cucumber

1/2 cup coleslaw

4 medium Brussels sprouts

1 corn on the cob

7 medium mushrooms

1/2 cup cooked or canned dry peas or beans

3/4 cup vegetable juice

Source: Adapted from information from the American Dietetic Association 2005 and United States Department of Agriculture 2006

*1 cup = 240ml

Nutrition Watch

The Department of Health launched a city-wide campaign to promote a healthier diet called 2 Plus 3 A Day in 2005. The programme was designed to raise the awareness of what a healthy diet is and promote the consumption of at least two portions of fruit and three portions of vegetables everyday. For more information, check out