Analyzing the data, the study team determined that regardless of smoking history those who ate five or more servings of certain fruits and vegetables a day were 35 percent less likely to develop COPD than those who consumed just two servings daily.
Among former smokers, each additional serving was tied with a 4 percent lower risk of COPD. In current smokers, each extra serving was linked to an 8 percent lower risk, the study says.
Researchers theorized that antioxidants found in some fruits and vegetables may play a role in reducing tissue stress and inflammation that is central to the onset of COPD.
That said, not all fruits and veggies were deemed protective. Bananas, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, garlic and peas did not appear to lower COPD risk.
Looked at in reverse, the team found that current and former smokers who consumed fewer than two portions of fruits and vegetables each day faced a greater risk for COPD respectively than those who had never smoked and ate five or more such portions daily.