Veggies can help smokers eat their way out of the habit

 
By Amy Wimmer Schwarb • Published: May 13th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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Cardiovascular disease. Kidney problems. Weight gain. Cancer risks. And a host of other problems. All of these things are on the list of problems a healthy diet, complete with a diverse array of colorful fruits vegetables, can help you avoid.

But a healthy diet can also aid with kicking one of the unhealthiest habits of all: smoking.

Nearly one-fifth of Americans still smoke cigarettes. And even though smoking rates continue to decline in the United States, the discovery of a correlation between more vegetables and less smoking might help just a few more smokers kick the habit.

New research shows that a diet rich in fruits and veggies can help people stop smoking — and also remain smoke-free for longer.

According to the study, fruits and veggies seem to be a common denominator in smoking cessation: Consuming more of them helps smokers cut back regardless of their age, gender, race, education level or household income.

And in this instance, more is better. For those in the study who still smoked, the more fruits and veggies they consumed, the fewer cigarettes they smoked. They also tended to wait longer to smoke the first cigarette of the day if they ate more fruits and vegetables.

Why the correlation between smoking and a good diet? No clear answer exists. Perhaps the healthy diet makes smokers less nicotine-dependent, or maybe the high fiber content of the fruits and veggies makes them feel more full.

And garden-grown foods aren’t exactly the type of fare that make people want to reach for a cigarette. A hearty steak, a morning cup of joe or a late-night beer might prompt a puff. Sauteed wilted spinach probably won’t.

So go ahead, have another drag on a carrot. It can’t hurt.