Vegetables can often get lost among the turkey legs, cornbread stuffing and pools of gravy during the holidays, but the findings from a new study provide yet another reason to load up on the carrots, sweet potatoes and other alpha-carotene-rich foods this Thanksgiving. Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the 14-year study found that eating antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables can help the body ward off disease and may even prolong life.

In the research, people with the highest levels of alpha-carotene—a type of carotenoid found in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash, broccoli, green beans, spinach and other yellow-orange and dark green vegetables—had a 39% lower risk of death from any cause than the people with the lowest levels of the antioxidant. This is the first study to show that diets rich in fruits and vegetables can actually lower the risk of death due to heart disease or cancer.

Read more about the study.