Affecting one in 10 American children, asthma is the leading cause of missed school days. Fortunately, a recent study of Spanish children suggests that increasing intake of cucumber, tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini could reduce the severity of asthmatic symptoms by 62-81%. Researchers from the University of Crete monitored the diets and respiratory health of 460 kids, from birth to when they were 6 years old.

They found significant reductions in wheezing among those children who ate “fruity vegetables” — so called because they are botanically classified as fruits, though generally regarded as vegetables. The quantities needed to provide a benefit were relatively modest: 1/2 cup cucumber slices (w/peel), 2 slices of a medium tomato, 1/2 cup cooked eggplant, or 4 slices of zucchini.

Aside from “fruity vegetables,” what about fruit itself? Previous research has found that kids who eat just one banana a day have a 34% lower chance of developing asthma symptoms. Pineapple too, may reduce the inflammation associated with asthma, thanks to its enzyme bromelain. Overall, fruit-based fiber may forestall respiratory problems later in life.

Bonus: Kids will breathe more easily by bypassing burgers, according to one New Zealand study which found that 75% of kids who ate even one hamburger a week were 100% more likely to experience wheezing problems. Swap the meat for fish, which could reduce your child’s allergy-related wheezing by 57%.

Published June 1, 2009