Are you having a hard time giving up those after-meal cigarettes and stress-relieving smoke breaks? If you’ve tried just about everything, then here’s a bit of good news for you. According to a new study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, smokers who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables are three times more likely to kick the habit. They are also more likely to stay away from smoking for longer as well.

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Researchers conducted a telephone survey of more than 1,000 smokers from ages 25 and above to see just how a nutritious diet affects their smoking habit. After 14 months, the participants were once again called and asked about the number of times they had smoked in the past month. Based on the results, smokers who consumed the most fruits and vegetables were more likely to have not smoked in the past 30 days than those who ate the least produce. Even after accounting for factors like age, race, gender, and income among others, the results remained the same.

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The healthy diet also appears to lessen the number of cigarettes people smoke in general. Apparently, eating fruits and vegetables worsens their taste. "We may have identified a new tool that can help people quit smoking," says study author Jeffrey Haibach, a graduate research assistant in the University at Buffalo's Department of Community Health and Health Behavior. "Granted, this is just an observational study, but improving one's diet may facilitate quitting."

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Haiback notes that many people mistake hunger for an urge to light one up, so the next time you feel like smoking a cigarette, try eating fruits and vegetables instead. By substituting one habit for another, you’re already improving your quality of life.

(Photo by brongaeh via Flickr Creative Commons)

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