Found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, dietary fiber is probably best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. Fiber-rich foods can also help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Now there’s another reason to eat more fiber: New research suggests it may reduce the risk of developing lung disease.

Data from nearly 2,000 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed that among people who consumed the most fiber (more than 17.5 grams per day), 68 percent had normal lung function; only 50 percent of those who consumed the least fiber (less than 10.75 grams per day) had lungs that functioned normally. In addition, only 14 percent of those with high-fiber diets had airway restriction, compared to nearly 30 percent of the fiber-averse.

People who ate more fiber also performed well on two important breathing tests. Those in the top quartile had a greater lung capacity and could exhale more air in one second than those in the lowest quartile. The research appeared in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society and was noted on sciencedaily.com.