A small new study has found that an antioxidant-rich diet could protect lungs from exposure to air pollution.

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According to Environmental Health News, the study published in the journal Epidemiology included 209 people who were admitted to London hospitals.

Researchers from Imperial College in London found that asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients were more likely to be admitted to the hospital on days when there were high particulate matter levels outside. Such conditions can cause oxidative stress to the body, raising the risk of health problems such as heart attacks. They found that people who had higher levels of vitamin C in their blood were less likely than those with low vitamin C levels to go to the hospital on these high-pollution days.

The findings add to a small but growing body of evidence that the effects of air pollution might be modified by antioxidants.  Previously, Cornell University researchers found that a diet rich in antioxidants could help to preserve lung function.