A study found that those eating about 500mg of flavonoids, equal to five portions of certain fruit or vegetables a day, or four portions and a cup of tea, had the lowest risks of dying of cancer and heart disease. Picture: AP

London - An apple a day really does help to keep the doctor away - and a cup of tea has benefits as well, major research suggests.

In a study of 53 048 participants, those who ate foods rich in flavonoids - natural compounds found in tea, apples and other fruit - had lower risks of dying of cancer and heart disease.

The findings, published in Nature Communications, showed those eating about 500mg of flavonoids, equal to five portions of certain fruit or vegetables a day, or four portions and a cup of tea, had the lowest risk. 

The protective effect was even stronger for those at a high risk of these diseases because of smoking or drinking alcohol twice a day. 

Dr Nicola Bondonno, the lead researcher of the Australian study of Danish diets over 23 years, said: "Encouraging flavonoid consumption might be a novel way to alleviate the increased risk (from these lifestyle choices)."

Daily Mail