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Eating Fruits And Vegetables May Help Smokers Quit

Jul 5th, 2012

Help smokers quitAdding fruits and vegetables to your diet may help you stay tobacco-free for longer, a recent study shows.

The study, done by the University of Buffalo (UB) public health researchers, was published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research. It is the first longitudinal study to explore the link between fruit and vegetable consumption and smoking cessation.

Researchers randomly selected a thousand smokers 25 years and older from all over the country. After fourteen months, they were asked if they abstained from smoking the previous month.

“Other studies have taken a snapshot approach, asking smokers and nonsmokers about their diets,” said study author Gary Giovino, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Health Behavior at the University at Buffalo. “We knew from our previous work that people who were abstinent from cigarettes for less than six months consumed more fruits and vegetables than those who still smoked. What we didn’t know was whether recent quitters increased their fruit and vegetable consumption or if smokers who ate more fruits and vegetables were more likely to quit.”

The study revealed that smokers who ate the most fruits and vegetables were three times more likely to stay tobacco-free for at least 30 days than those who consumed the least amount of fruits and vegetables. The numbers held true even when factors like age, education, gender, health status, income, and race were taken into account.

Researchers also found that smokers who consumed more fruits and vegetables smoked the least number of cigarettes and scored better on the nicotine dependence test.

“This can be a useful tool to help people quit smoking,” said Jeffrey Haibach, co-author and graduate research assistant at UB. “Granted, this is just an observational study, but improving one’s diet may facilitate quitting.”

It is still unclear how fruits and vegetables help smokers quit smoking and stay tobacco-free. One explanation is that the high fiber content of fruits and vegetables can make you feel fuller, and scientists believe hunger can trigger your craving for cigarettes.

“It is also possible that fruits and vegetables give people more of a feeling of satiety or fullness so that they feel less of a need to smoke, since smokers sometimes confuse hunger with an urge to smoke,” says Haibach.

Researchers suggest that further studies are needed to find out if the findings can be replicated and what are the mechanisms behind them.

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