Breathe better: eat red fruits

A recent study shows how anthocyanins, natural antioxidant pigments of color: orange, red, purple, or blue, present in red fruits in particular, make it possible to slow down the weakening of lung function and to breathe better.

Plants develop their pigmentation (colors) in nature in order to protect themselves against the sun’s harmful UV rays and other environmental stressors. These active principles help plants to survive. When we consume these compounds (called anthocyanins: pigments in shades of orange, red, pink, purple and blue) found mainly in red fruits and some vegetables, we in turn benefit from their ability to fight against oxidative stress in particular. These antioxidants are from the polyphenol family and large studies have already shown that consuming them is one of the best strategies we have to prevent diabetes and certain cancers. But now these polyphenols also positively influence lung function in adults and the elderly.

Antocyanins: natural anti-inflammatories that protect the lungs

Research has revealed that anthocyanins are found in the lung tissue of individuals after ingestion. They would thus prevent inflammatory secretions and the secretion of mucus.

This new study, the results of which were presented at the international congress of the American Thoracic Society, looked at the link between anthocyanins and lung function at a later age. As part of the study, 463 adults (average age 44) from Norway and England were observed. Participants answered a questionnaire about their diet and were subjected to a spirometry test to determine their lung function, both at the start of the study and during the follow-up period. They were then compared based on the amount of anthocyanins they consumed. The study also took into account various factors, including diet, gender, height, BMI and socioeconomic status.

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Flavonoids protect respiratory function

The results led to significantly better values ​​for the group recording the highest consumption of anthocyanins.

On a yearly basis, this test group posted:

  • a smaller reduction in forced expiratory volume of 1 second (FEV: -9.8 ml/year versus -18.9 ml/year)
  • a lower reduction in forced vital capacity (FVC: -9.8 ml/year versus -22.2 ml/year)
  • a slower reduction in the ratio between the two (VEF/FVC: -0.02/year)

In conclusion, the consumption of anthocyanins via the diet has been associated with protection against lung function decline. This result was only seen in non-smokers and ex-smokers. In smokers, the ingestion of flavonoids had no effect on the decline of lung function as long as the chronic inflammation due to smoke and its irritating compounds was permanent.

Add anthocyanins to your diet

Adding anthocyanins to the diet requires identifying the best sources. Here’s a handy little list

Berries: wild blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, currants Strawberries, cherries, black grapes

Red onion


Legumes: red lentils and kidney beans

Purple cauliflower, red cabbage, and purple broccoli

Look for the easiest ways to introduce them into your daily diet. Prepare a mixture of your favorite berries for your breakfast. Red cabbage is a great addition to sauerkraut or just its juice. Finish autumn meals with a bunch of grapes…organic if possible.


Garcia-Larsen V. et al., Abstract 15028. American Thoracic Society International Conference, May 2018.

Anthocyanins—More Than Nature’s Colours: Izabela Konczak1, and Wei Zhang J Biomed Biotechnol. 2004 Dec 1; 2004(5): 239–240.

* The information and services available on in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. []

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