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ImagePeople who consume more fruit and vegetables have a lower risk of dying from ischaemic heart disease – the most common form of heart disease, says a European study.

However, the authors point out that a higher fruit and vegetable intake occurs among people with other healthy eating habits and lifestyles, and that these factors could also be associated with the lower risk of dying from IHD.

Data analysed from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Heart study has shown that people who ate at least eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day had a 22 per cent lower risk of dying from IHD than did those who consumed fewer than three portions a day. A portion weighed 80 grams, equal to a small banana, a medium apple, or a small carrot.

Dr Francesca Crowe of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford, UK, and the first author of the paper by the EPIC study collaborators, said: "This study involved over 300,000 people in eight different European countries, with 1,636 deaths from IHD. It shows a 4 per cent reduced risk of dying from IHD for each additional portion of fruit and vegetables consumed above the lowest intake of two portions. In other words, the risk of a fatal IHD for someone eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day would be 4 per cent lower compared to someone consuming four portions a day, and so on up to eight portions or more."

Ischaemic heart disease (IHD) is characterised by reduced blood supply to the heart; people suffering from it can develop angina, chest pains and have a heart attack.

The study is published online in the European Heart Journal .

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