by Brandy Abalos

There’s no specific diet that can eliminate asthma. However, certain foods may impact how severe asthma presents itself for some people. Many doctors recommend using trial and error to determine which foods trigger your asthma. Certain food categories are generally thought to be beneficial or detrimental to people living with asthma.

Fruits and Vegetables

The antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables are essential to overall health. These help stop particles called free radicals from damaging cells. Free radicals also cause lung inflammation and irritation. A diet that includes varied fruits and vegetables can help avoid some of the worst asthma symptoms.


Omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish can help reduce the amount of IgE that your body makes. IgE is an antibody that can cause breathing problems for people with asthma. It’s important to note that the high doses of oral steroids many people with asthma take may reduce the positive effects of omega-3 fatty acids. Foods rich in this component include salmon, herring, sardines and tuna.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps boost the immune system, thereby helping your body defend against germs that can cause swelling of the airways. Evidence shows that vitamin D deficiency can actually lead to more asthma attacks. Vitamin D-rich milk, eggs, orange juice and fish that are rich in healthy fats like salmon and swordfish are good sources of Vitamin D. Foods and drinks “fortified” with vitamin D are also beneficial to an asthma sufferer’s diet.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E contains tocopherol, a chemical that reduces coughing and wheezing due to asthma. Eating foods rich in vitamin E can help reduce the severity of an asthma attack. Foods high in vitamin E include nuts, seeds, broccoli and kale.


Foods that contain a significant amount of sulfites can exacerbate asthma symptoms. While fresh fruits like apples and oranges can significantly benefit people with asthma, dried fruits can present some consequences due to the high level of sulfites that are used to preserve them. Other foods high in sulfites include alcohol, shrimp, pickles, bottled lemon juice and maraschino cherries.


Certain drinks and other products contain salicylates, which can make it harder to breathe, especially for people who already have asthma. It is difficult for the body to process these substances. Some foods that naturally contain salicylates include coffee, tea, spices, herbs, aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medications.

Beans & Other Gas-Producing Foods

While beans and other gas-producing foods do not have harmful components, they can cause bloat, which reduces breathing capacity. This feeling can even trigger an asthma attack for some people. Soaking beans for a few hours or overnight before cooking them can decrease the likelihood of bloat. Other foods that commonly cause gas include carbonated drinks, garlic, onions and fried foods.

Allergy-Triggering Foods

If you have food allergies, whether the reaction is severe or minor, you should avoid them. Foods that commonly cause an allergic reaction for people often result in more severe asthma symptoms. Foods that commonly trigger an allergic response include peanuts, tree nuts, dairy and some meat products.

Mediterranean Diet

Although there is no specific diet that cures asthma, the Mediterranean Diet can have significant overall benefits. This diet includes many foods mentioned above that benefit people with asthma and discourages potentially harmful foods. The Mediterranean Diet focuses on fresh fruits, whole grains, vegetables and fish. Instead of butter, people cook with olive or canola oil. The diet does suggest drinking a small amount of red wine, but that is optional. Research indicates that people who follow a Mediterranean Diet are less likely to develop asthma. In people who already had asthma, some had fewer attacks.

Diet Definitely Can Affect the Symptoms of Asthma

A healthy lifestyle is one of the easiest ways to control asthma and related symptoms. That includes eating fresh foods that are rich in beneficial vitamins and nutrients while avoiding foods that trigger the condition. No diet can cure asthma, but a healthy diet does help manage symptoms.