London: Vegetables may be good for you, but eating a lot of them is unlikely to reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke, a large British study suggests.
What else we eat, how much exercise we do and where and how we live may have more of an impact, the researchers say.
But they emphasise that a balanced diet helps reduce the risk of many diseases, including some cancers.
Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day is recommended by health advisers.
The study, from the universities of Oxford and Bristol and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, asked nearly 400,000 people who are taking part in the UK Biobank study to fill in a questionnaire about their diet, including the quantity of cooked and raw vegetables they ate each day.
On average, people said they ate two heaped tablespoons of raw vegetables, three of cooked vegetables and five in total per day.
Their health, and any heart problems that led to hospital treatment or death, was then tracked over the next 12 years.
Although the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was around 15% lower for those eating the most vegetables particularly those eating lots of raw veg, compared with those eating the least, the researchers said this could all be explained by other factors.
These included people's lifestyles for example, whether they smoked and how much alcohol they drank, as well as their jobs, incomes and overall diet.
As a result, they said their study did not find evidence of "a protective effect of vegetable intake" on how often heart and circulatory problems occurred.
Dr. Ben Lacey, from the University of Oxford, said: "This is an important study with implications for understanding the dietary causes of cardiovascular disease (CVD)."
But Prof. Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, said there was "good trial evidence" that eating foods rich in fibre such as vegetables, "can help lower weight and improve levels of risk factors known to cause heart disease".
He said the study's conclusions could be debated and should not alter widespread advice to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
"In fact, I suspect we may have underestimated the importance of a healthy diet on health and disease in general," he added, BBC news reported.