If you want to boost your heart health and reduce your chances of heart disease, you've got to load up on antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables, according to new research.
Scientists also found that taking vitamin pills instead won't have the same effect.
Swedish researchers found women who ate seven serves of fruit and vegetables a day were between 20 and 29 percent less likely to have a heart attack in a decade than people who only had 2.4 serves.
The study looked at the diets of 30,000 Swedish women aged 49 to 83 for 10 years. After adjusting for other heart health risk factors, such as age, weight, smoking and level of exercise, they found that the women with the highest antioxidant intake were 20 percent less likely to have a heart attack.
Those who ate more fruit and vegetables tended to eat less saturated fat, so when the researchers adjusted the data to include fat intake, the risk of heart attacks rose to 29 percent.
Dr Alicja Wolk from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, who led the research, said the findings contrasted with tests of single antioxidant supplements, which do not appear to reduce the risk of heart attack.
Antioxidants diffuse free radicals, which are molecules that cause inflammation, damage cells, and are thought to contribute to heart disease and cancer.
Dr Wolk believes different antioxidants work together to protect the body in a more powerful way than taking a big dose of single-dose supplements.
According to the Heart Foundation, vitamins E and C, plus carotenoids and polyphenols are the antioxidants thought to play the biggest role in cardiovascular health.
Barbara Eden, the senior manager of food supply at the Heart Foundation, told ninemsn not enough Australians are consuming the recommended two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day.
"The evidence shows if you have adequate consumption of those fruits and vegetables there is a lower risk of heart disease," she said.
"Our evidence is that eating adequate amounts of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, fish, reduced fat dairy products and lean meats and poultry gives you all the antioxidants your body needs to remain healthy."
Eden agrees with the Swedish researchers that there is not enough evidence to say vitamin supplements can protect us from heart disease, and that it's possible we need multiple antioxidants to work together.
"We really don't understand the interaction between those smaller components of our food," she said.
"If you are just taking the individual supplements, you could be missing out on one of those important ones that interact with those vitamin A, D or E components that you are taking in that supplement."
The study was published in the American Journal of Medicine.