Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins and winter squashes – as well as carrots – are packed with carotenoids, which scientists say help fight off disease.
The anti-oxidants are also found in dark-green vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, and green peas, and may help combat lung cancer.
Researchers found these veg are packed with alpha-carotene, saying high blood levels of the antioxidant was linked with a reduced risk of dying over a 14-year period.
Chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer are caused by oxygen-related damage to DNA, proteins and fats.
The researchers found carotenoids including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lycopene produced by plants and micro-organisms act as antioxidants and counteract this damage.
Dr Chaoyang Li and colleagues from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, USA, studied 15,318 adults age 20 and up who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Follow-up Study.