a man holds a grilled skewer with shrimp and zucchini and sweet potatoes

COPD-Friendly Foods

For those of us that have COPD, eating is not always an easy task. Sometimes it is the stomach that is upset or bloated, sometimes it is the shortness of breath that hinders mealtime, and sometimes we just simply lose our appetite. Make note of foods that don’t seem to agree with you and avoid them.

Getting it down

I find that I often choke on bread, the fresher it is the harder it is to get it down. Also, roast beef, as much as I love it, seems to be hard for me to digest. Being aware of this helps to conquer the panic from eating. These days fruits, vegetables, lean white meats, eggs, and fish are the easiest to get down. When I sit down for a meal, I always have a glass of water beside me just in case food gets stuck and I begin to choke.

I take small bites each time and make sure to chew longer so no big chunks are swallowed. I also break up my meals into smaller ones so that I am not eating a big meal in one sitting. Wearing supplemental oxygen helps me maintain my oxygen levels while I get my proper daily food intake.


Potassium is an important mineral that keeps our body and breathing regulated, helps in the prevention of diabetes, and keeps blood pressure levels normal. At normal levels, potassium keeps our heart healthy and kidneys working well. It helps us digest food and ensures the body maintains proper fluid balance. Recent research shows that vitamin K in potassium helps in maintaining proper calcium levels. A lack of potassium leads to poor metabolism and an inability to regenerate tissue. It also contributes to our mental well being.1


Magnesium is essential for our bodies to use potassium properly. Potassium and magnesium go hand in hand. It regulates muscle and nerve function, and low magnesium is said to be the culprit of muscle cramps, chronic fatigue, and numbness especially in the hands and feet. Heart arrhythmia is a serious side effect of having low magnesium and potassium and it can lead to heart failure and stroke. Low magnesium can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. There is some correlation between low magnesium and asthma as the muscles of the airways that contract and expand as we breathe.1

It is true then, that eating foods high in potassium and magnesium should be an essential part of our normal daily intake but most people are deficient in most of these minerals.

Foods high in potassium and magnesium

Foods that are high in potassium and magnesium include:1

  • Fruits: Avocados, dried and fresh apricots, grapefruit, bananas, apples, oranges, cherries
  • Vegetables and legumes: Spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli, white beans, swiss chard
  • Lean meats and fish: Salmon, chicken, turkey, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters
  • Grains: Bread, seeds, cashews, almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, macadamia, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflowers seeds,
  • Sweets: Dark Chocolate
  • Eggs: Chicken eggs, duck eggs

This list shows you a few ways to naturally increase your potassium and magnesium. Do you like eating any of these foods? Let us know in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 7th, 2024, Barbara Moore passed away. Barbara’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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