A diet rich in fruit and vegetables may protect against cancer and heart disease, claim researchers.
Fruit and vegetables contain high levels of salicylates, which are also the active anti-inflammatory ingredient of aspirin.
According to a review of the possible association of cancer prevention with this substance found in aspirin, published in the medical journal The Lancet, many herbs and spices are also especially rich in salicylates, reports The Independent.
Professor Peter Elwood, of the University of Cardiff''s school of medicine, who led the review, said: "I think this is a very exciting area that should be researched in considerable depth.
"Most medical authorities have said for 20 years that it is the antioxidants in fruit and vegetables that account for their protective effects. It leads us to wonder if the beneficial effects of fruit and vegetables are because of the salicylates they contain," he said.
Salicylates were first identified in strawberries at the beginning of the 20th century, and they have been found to occur naturally in a wide range of plants.