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Food Science

Fruits and Vegetables May Help Smokers Kick the Habit

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Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 7:30 AM
click to enlarge Regier Family Farms Castlebrite apricots - A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
  • Regier Family Farms Castlebrite apricots

If you're trying to quit smoking, you might want to take a trip to your local farmers market: According to a study conducted by University of Buffalo researchers, eating fruits and vegetables may help smokers kick the habit.

One thousand smokers 25 years or older were surveyed about their smoking habits and consumption of fruits and vegetables. Fourteen months later, researchers followed up with the participants and asked whether they had stopped smoking. The study revealed an inverse relationship between fruits and vegetables and cigarettes; specifically, the more fruits and vegetables consumed, the fewer cigarettes smoked. In fact, those who ate the most "were three times more likely to be tobacco-free for at least 30 days at follow-up 14 months later than those consuming the lowest amount of fruits and vegetables."

The study was primarily observational and will require additional research to confirm the results. Nonetheless, the researchers speculate that because smokers "sometimes confuse hunger with an urge to smoke," eating more fruits and vegetables satisfies that need for a drag.

More interesting, perhaps, is how diet affects the taste of cigarettes. Prior studies have explained why everyone from Truman Capote to Otis Redding loved cigarettes with their coffee: Coffee and alcohol, among other foods, enhance the tobacco flavor. Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, do not. If anything, the researchers say, "Foods like fruit and vegetables may actually worsen the taste of cigarettes." Thus, smokers currently indulging in the summer's surfeit of stone fruit and purslane may have simply lost the taste for tobacco.

The results of the study were published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.


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