According to British researchers by eating more than the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day people can further reduce the risk of suffering a stroke.
Professor Graham MacGregor of St George's medical school at the University of London, carried out an analysis of eight studies that looked into the impact of fruit and vegetables on stroke.
He says the analysis shows for the first time a quantitative relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and stroke, and that the more healthy foods people consumed, the less likely they were to have a stroke, which is a leading cause of disability and death.
MacGregor says it was always thought that eating healthy food such as fresh fruit and vegetables helped prevent strokes but it had not been proven to what extent they did until now.
The research involved more than 257,500 people from Japan, Europe and the United States, and the scientists found that people who ate more than five servings of fruit and vegetables a day had a 26 percent reduction in stroke compared to individuals who consumed less than three servings daily.
MacGregor says the finding is important because it really shows that the quantity of fruit and vegetables you should be eating is more than five a day.
Strokes are caused by a blockage in an artery leading to the brain or bleeding in or around the brain, and as many as 17 million people die each year of cardiovascular diseases, particularly heart attacks and strokes.
High blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, raised cholesterol, obesity and lack of exercise are risk factors.
Fruit and vegetables are full of nutrients such as vitamin C, beta carotene and potassium as well as plant proteins and dietary fiber.
The researchers suspect that potassium is an important factor in preventing stroke and MacGregor acknowledges that it is already known that potassium lowers blood pressure.
MacGregor also points out that fruit and vegetables also are less calorie-dense, have very little fat and contain antioxidants which may also be beneficial.