Researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Herlev and Gentofte Hospital in Denmark studied data from 100,000 Danes and their intake of fruit and vegetables as well as their DNA.

"We can see that those with the highest intake of fruit and vegetables have a 15 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 20 percent lower risk of early death compared with those who very rarely eat fruit and vegetables," said Camilla Kobylecki, a medical doctor and PhD student at the Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital.

"At the same time, we can see that the reduced risk is related to high vitamin C concentrations in the blood from the fruit and vegetables," Kobylecki said.

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which protects cells and biological molecules from the damage which causes many diseases, including cardiovascular disease.

The human body is not able to produce vitamin C, which means that we must get the vitamin from our diet.

"Eating a lot of fruit and vegetables is a natural way of increasing vitamin C blood levels, which in the long term may contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and early death," said Borge Nordestgaard, a clinical professor at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, and a consultant at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital.

"You can get vitamin C supplements, but it is a good idea to get your vitamin C by eating a healthy diet, which will at the same time help you to develop a healthier lifestyle in the long term, for the general benefit of your health," said Nordestgaard.

The study has just been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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