While there’s no single food or nutrient that improves asthma symptoms, eating a balanced diet and avoiding processed and other triggering foods may help reduce asthma flare-ups.

If you live with asthma, you may wonder whether certain foods and dietary choices can help you manage your condition. There’s currently no conclusive evidence that a specific diet has an effect on the frequency or severity of asthma attacks.

But eating fresh, nutritious foods and avoiding triggering ones may improve your overall health as well as your asthma symptoms.

According to research from 2019, a shift from eating fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to processed foods may be linked to an increase in asthma cases in recent decades.

Although more research is needed, early evidence suggests there’s no single food or nutrient that improves asthma symptoms on its own. Instead, people with asthma may benefit from eating a well-rounded diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Food also comes into play as it relates to allergies. Food allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to specific proteins in foods. In some cases, this can result in asthma symptoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is a major risk factor for developing asthma.

Asthma in people with obesity may be more severe and more difficult to treat. Eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight for your body may make it easier to manage your condition.

There’s no specific diet recommended for asthma, but some foods and nutrients have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects, which can help support your lung function and immune system.

If you have asthma or severe asthma, consider adding the following foods and nutrients to your diet:

Foods rich in vitamins

Vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A/beta-carotene have been extensively investigated for their effects on asthma.

All are antioxidants, and vitamins C and E may have anti-inflammatory or anti-allergic effects. Getting enough vitamin D may help prevent asthma exacerbations.

Foods rich in Vitamin C include:

Foods rich in Vitamin E include:

  • wheat-germ oil
  • sunflower seeds
  • almonds
  • hazelnut oil
  • peanuts
  • avocado

Foods rich in Vitamin A and beta-carotene include:

Beside supplementation and sunlight exposure, vitamin D can be obtained through foods like:

If you know you have allergies to milk or eggs, you may want to avoid them as a source of vitamin D. Allergy symptoms from a food source can manifest as asthma.

Foods rich in minerals

Selenium and magnesium are minerals that may help reduce symptoms of asthma and severe asthma.

As oxidative stress significantly contributes to asthma, and as selenium is a powerful antioxidant, increasing selenium intake in your diet can help reduce oxidative stress and thus reduce asthma.

A 2022 study involving 206 patients (103 with asthma and 103 without asthma) concluded that selenium deficiency led to an impaired immune response. This finding suggests that adding selenium to your diet may help reduce oxidative stress in the lungs.

A 2022 review of research on the anti-inflammatory properties of magnesium found that magnesium had a positive effect on lung function and reduced asthma symptoms.

Foods rich in selenium include:

  • Brazil nuts
  • fish
  • meat, such as chicken, pork, beef, and turkey
  • eggs
  • brown rice
  • bananas

Foods rich in magnesium include:

  • dark chocolate
  • avocado
  • tofu
  • pumpkin seeds
  • Swiss chard
  • salmon

Some foods may trigger asthma symptoms or cause severe asthma to get worse. These should be avoided. However, it’s best to consult your doctor before you start eliminating certain foods from your diet.


Sulfites are a type of preservative that may worsen asthma for some people. They’re found in:

  • wine
  • dried fruits
  • pickled food
  • maraschino cherries
  • shrimp
  • bottled lemon and lime juice

Foods that cause gas

Eating large meals or foods that cause gas will put pressure on your diaphragm, especially if you have acid reflux. This may cause chest tightness and trigger asthma flares.

These foods include:

  • beans
  • cabbage
  • carbonated drinks
  • onions
  • garlic
  • fried foods


Although it’s rare, some people with asthma may be sensitive to salicylates found in coffee, tea, and some herbs and spices.

Salicylates are naturally occurring chemical compounds, and they’re sometimes found in foods.

Artificial ingredients

Chemical preservatives, flavorings, and colorings are often found in processed and fast food. Some people with asthma may be sensitive or allergic to these artificial ingredients.

Common allergens

People with food allergies may also have asthma. The most common allergens include:

Most doctors recommend an overall healthy lifestyle to help you manage your condition. This can include eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly.

Diet and lifestyle changes are meant to complement your existing asthma treatment. You shouldn’t stop using prescribed asthma medications without consulting your doctor, even if you begin to feel better.

Traditional asthma treatments may include:

When it comes to managing your asthma symptoms and avoiding exacerbations, prevention can go a long way. Since asthma may be life threatening, it’s critical to identify your triggers and avoid them.

Tobacco smoke is an asthma trigger for many people. If you smoke, talk with your doctor about quitting. If someone in your household smokes, talk with them about quitting or ensure they smoke outdoors.

You can take more steps that may help prevent asthma attacks if you:

  • Create an asthma action plan with your doctor and follow it.
  • Get a pneumonia and flu shot each year to avoid illnesses that could trigger asthma attacks.
  • Take your asthma medications as prescribed.
  • Track your asthma and monitor your breathing to identify early warning signs that your asthma is worsening.
  • Use an air conditioner to reduce your exposure to dust mites, outdoor pollutants, and allergens such as pollen.
  • Use dust covers on your bed and pillows to reduce dust exposure.
  • Reduce pet dander by regularly grooming and bathing your pets.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when spending time outside in the cold.
  • Use a humidifier or dehumidifier to keep humidity in your home at optimal levels.
  • Clean your house regularly to eliminate mold spores and other indoor allergens.

Eating a healthier diet may help improve your asthma symptoms, but managing symptoms and preventing them from getting worse depends on many factors.

For example, the overall impact of a healthier diet may depend on your general health, how consistent you are in making changes, and the severity of your symptoms. At the very least, most people who start following a more nutritious diet usually notice improved energy levels.

Having a healthier diet may also lead to benefits such as: