Bananas may be beneficial for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). They are potassium-rich and contain antioxidants and fiber. Other sources of these nutrients are berries and whole grains.
COPD is a group of diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These conditions cause a blockage to the airflow and difficulty breathing.
COPD affects millions of Americans and is the third leading cause of disease-related death in the United States.
Depending on the severity, people can make lifestyle and dietary changes to manage the condition.
This article looks at how bananas may benefit COPD and what the research says. We also discuss other fruits and foods to eat for optimal lung function. Finally, we provide general dietary tips for managing COPD.
Bananas are a healthy food containing vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The studies below demonstrate the nutritional benefits of bananas for COPD.
May improve lung function
Potassium may prevent exacerbation of COPD
Bananas are a good source of potassium, which may be beneficial in COPD.
According to a
Therefore, including bananas in the diet may be helpful. One banana contains 375 milligrams of potassium, providing
However, another 2019 study indicates high potassium levels (hyperkalemia) were only present in 6.7% of all people with COPD. Although some of these cases may be due to the medications which raised potassium levels, it may be sensible not to overeat bananas.
41% of COPD patients with hyperkalemia were taking medications that may potentially have raised potassium levels. Therefore, it may be sensible to eat bananas in moderation, as with all other foods.
People with COPD and kidney disease may need to limit their potassium intake, so it is important to check with their healthcare professional before adding high potassium foods such as bananas into their diet.
Everyone should include fruit as part of a balanced diet. The
For example, a
2021 research associates the following antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables with a lower risk of chronic disease:
High antioxidant-rich fruits
Some examples of fruits with a high concentration of antioxidants include:
High antioxidant-rich vegetables
Certain vegetables to include in an antioxidant-rich diet are:
A person can also speak with a dietitian to help them plan which fruits and vegetables to eat as part of their diet.
The American Lung Association advises that the right mix of nutrients can help someone with COPD breathe easier. It explains that the metabolism of carbohydrates produces the most carbon dioxide for the amount of oxygen used. Conversely, the metabolism of fat produces the least. Therefore, for some people with COPD, eating a diet with fewer carbohydrates and more fat helps them breathe easier.
Additionally, the association has the following dietary tips:
- choose complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain bread and pasta, fresh fruits and vegetables
- limit simple carbohydrates such as:
- table sugar
- candy and cake
- eat 25–30 grams of fiber each day by consuming food such as:
- nuts and seeds
- whole grains
- fruits and vegetables
- choose plant sources of fats and oils such as:
- limit trans fats and saturated fats in:
- stay hydrated by drinking 6–8 glasses of water per day
- drinking water 1 hour after meals to avoid feeling too full
- avoid consuming too much salt
- try eating 4–6 smaller meals per day to allow the diaphragm to move more freely
- avoid foods that cause gas or bloating
As a rich source of potassium, eating bananas may help someone avoid low potassium levels, which could exacerbate symptoms of COPD. In addition, bananas are a fiber-rich complex carbohydrate and contain several other vitamins and minerals that contribute to overall health and well-being.
Many fruits contain antioxidants with higher levels in berries and other foods such as whole grains, seeds, and nuts. Therefore, including these foods in the everyday diet could help people with COPD manage their condition.