Recipe to Quit Smoking? Fruits and Veggies

There are lots of reasons to eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables—they're colorful, usually inexpensive, and excellent for your health. You can even grow them yourself. Now researchers have discovered one more reason to embrace a diet high in fresh produce—a greater likelihood that, if you're a smoker, you'll give up cigarettes.

A study conducted at the University of Buffalo in New York involved initial telephone interviews with more than 1,000 randomly chosen adult smokers. A little more than a year later, researchers followed up with the smokers to find out which ones had quit. What they discovered was that those who indicated their fruit and vegetable consumption was high were three times likelier to have been tobacco free for at least a month at the time of the follow-up call. Of those who hadn't quit, the ones who ate plenty of produce took their first cigarette later in the morning and smoked less overall than the others. The researchers were careful to control for factors such as household income, education, and general health behaviors.

Why does eating more fruits and vegetables aid in the quest to quit smoking? There are several possibilities, according to the study's authors. "The higher fiber content of fruits and vegetables may help the smoker have fewer cravings for cigarettes, as fiber can promote the feeling of fullness and a feeling of hunger in smokers is sometimes confused [with] a cigarette craving," says Jeffrey Haibach, MPH, an author of the study. Haibach points out that feeling full can help prevent weight gain, a common concern of smokers trying to quit. But it could also be that cigarettes themselves lose their appeal somewhat in the face of all that produce. According to Haibach, research shows that smokers may perceive the taste of cigarettes as worse after eating fruits and vegetables. Mood, too, can be a factor—a healthier diet leads to feeling happier, which can aid in the attempts to kick the habit. Depression, on the other hand, makes it tougher to quit.

Stock up on colorful fruits and vegetables to make the transition from smoker to nonsmoker easier. Hit your local farmer's market for the freshest, tastiest bounty available. Then do a little searching through recipe books or online for creative ways to enjoy your goodies. Turn blueberries and bananas into breakfast smoothies and tomatoes into pasta sauces. Roast peaches to put on frozen yogurt and julienne strips of zucchini to mix with angel-hair spaghetti, and enjoy your newfound health and well being.




University at Buffalo. "Trying to Quit Smoking? Try Eating More Fruits and Vegetables." Web. 5 June 2012.

Interview with Jeffrey Haibach, MPH, University at Buffalo.