ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What is the Best Nutrition for Smokers? Eating Healthier Before Kicking the Habit

Updated on August 8, 2011


Hey you can stop giggling now and, yes, you read the title correctly. This article is about nutrition for smokers until they are able to quit. That's because, despite all warnings, including the new graphic anti-smoking images slated for cigarette packages, there are plenty of people who contemplate quitting and try to quit often and yet somehow fall short of doing so. Plus, smokers may not think it's worth any effort to eat better with such a habit as smoking on board. This is a not a prescription to give up efforts to quit, but an encouragement to eat healthier until you do. As almost anybody knows, the best way to definitely cut the risks of diseases associated with smoking is simply to quit since smoking definitely increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Did you know, however, that by eating certain foods, smokers can diminish their chances somewhat of the same major smoke-related diseases. Are you thinking blah, blah, blah, heard it all before. If so, you can stop now because this is not a lecture on getting you to quit. It's really just some easy tips for healthier eating, even if you smoke, until you can, will, or even want to quit.

Do You Need a Better Attitude About Nutrition?

Unfortunately, experts say there seems to be a connection between smoking and not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Could it be that smokers have the attitude of "What's the point of good nutrition, when I smoke?" Well there are at least two good reasons not to feel that way:

1) Getting fruits and vegetable on your plate can slightly slash the risk of lung cancer and other smoke-related diseases. It also seems to be an easier place to start in the scheme of better health for some.

2) These very same foods are packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients, which can fight to help prevent smoke-related diseases or help treat those that develop. See related hub for more particulars on that subject.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Why Not Do What You Can in the Meantime?

In other words, why not do what you can to help yourself until you either decide to quit, want to quit, can quit, or actually do quit smoking? Even if you just won't quit smoking, the following foods will offer some protection:

1) Tomatoes, which are said to offer more cancer protection than any other fruit or vegetable. This is because of the powerful antioxidant lycopene they contain.

2) Grapes, cherries, and strawberries, all of which contain ellagic acid. This is a phytochemical thought to destroy hydrocarbons found in cigarette smoke.

3) Tofu, a soy food thought to fight lung cancer. This may in part account for the lower instances of cancer in Japan.

4) Citrus fruits like oranges, limes, lemons, and pineapples. They are loaded with vitamin C, which is destroyed by cigarette smoking. In fact, Earl Mindell, R.Ph, PhD , author of the Vitamin Bible and Earl Mindell's Food as Medicine, says smokers should "eat a fruit or vegetable high in vitamin C for every cigarette you smoke." Let's see that's cigarette, carrot, cigarette, orange, and then cigarette, broccoli. I have to admit that even sounds strange. It seems that the stark contrast between healthy vs. unhealthy could help change that mindset I suppose. Admittedly, that was not stated as Mindell's purpose for that suggestion. He just felt it would be good to replenish the vitamin C lost to cigarette smoke.

5) Vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower have been touted as ones that can slow the growth of cancers.

Any Benefits for Those Exposed to Second-Hand Smoke?

Yes. Even people exposed to second-hand smoke can eat the same foods to gain benefit. The antioxidants in foods like those listed above are thought to be most helpful in trying to protect the airways from the chemicals in cigarette smoke and the negative effects on health. It seems that researchers agree on the benefits of certain fruits and vegetables being not only helpful in fighting lung cancer but almost all forms of cancers.

Until You Kick the Habit...

As a smoker, it's not necessarily futile to be proactive about your health and nutrition. Of course, the very best thing would be to quit smoking altogether. In the meantime, choosing to eat more fruits and vegetables like the ones noted here can offer some benefit. Again, this article does not advocate smoking in any way but actually indicates that even smokers can choose to eat healthier and benefit somewhat from doing so until they can or will quit.

In Summary from Experts

Finally, according to Dr. Susan Taylor Mayne of Yale Cancer Center, "Eating fruits and vegetables is associated with decreased risk," especially ones like carrots, cantaloupes, and broccoli, which have beta carotene, in addition to apricots, pumpkins, and squash. The benefits of vitamin E found in wheat germ oil and wheat germ is to maintain cell walls and to neutralize free radicals, states Dr. James Scala, author of If You Can't/Won't Stop Smoking. Also selenium present particularly in onions and garlic, and many other fruits and vegetables, is good for the same reason.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)