A study into the diet and health of people from eight countries suggests that the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables a day should increase to eight.
After studying 300,000 people, the research concluded that eight portions of fresh food a day meant a 22% decreased risk of dying from heart disease. It states that every extra portion meant more protection. One portion was calculated to be of 80 grams and could be a small banana, a medium apple or a small carrot.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the world, especially in the UK, claiming a third of the deaths occurring each year in England.
Dr Francesca Crowe of Oxford University, who had been working on the research study states that people who ate a lot of vegetables were less likely to suffer from ischaemic heart disease.
Although antioxidants were believed to be a protection against heart problems, Crowe claims, "It is, however, worth noting that consuming antioxidant supplements is not the same as increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables because there are many other components in fruits and vegetables that may confer a cardioprotective effect."
Stephen Devries, MD, of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago says, "A possible mechanism is the impact of fruit and vegetables to lower inflammation, a known mechanism contributing to cardiovascular disease."
The study does have its limitations; the biological mechanism by which fruits and vegetables may lower ischemic heart disease risk has not been explained clearly.