09/27/2012 12:16 am ET

Antioxidant-Rich Diet Could Lower Women's Heart Attack Risk: Study

Eating lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables could help keep women's heart attack risk low, according to a large new study.

Researchers from the Karolinska Institute found that women who consumed the most antioxidants from foods -- not to mention ate nearly seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day -- had a 20 percent decreased risk of having a heart attack over a 10-year period.

Even though past studies have not shown any immense benefit from taking antioxidant supplements on heart attack risk, the researchers noted that the positive effect observed in this study may be because the women ate actual fruits and vegetables.

"In contrast to supplements of single antioxidants, the dietary total antioxidant capacity reflects all present antioxidants, including thousands of compounds, all of them in doses present in our usual diet, and even takes into account their synergistic effects," study researcher Dr. Alicja Wolk, DrMedSci, said in a statement.

The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, is based on food consumption and health data from 32,561 women from Sweden between ages 49 and 83. Data was collected from 1997 until 2007.

By the end of the study period, 1,114 women had had a heart attack. Women who ate the most vegetables in the study consumed nearly three times more than those who ate the least vegetables in the study (just 2.4 servings per day).

For some of the best foods for your heart, click through the slideshow:

Best Foods For Your Heart