Nearly 11 percent of the population consume fresh vegetables and fruits only two or three times a week, even though nutrition experts say they are vital for good health, according to a survey by the Volcani Research Institute in Beit Dagan.The institute revealed on Tuesday that 80% of the population eat fresh produce daily or almost every day, showing that the majority of the public realize the health benefits of consuming them. But the rest are either unaware of this or unable to afford to buy fruits and vegetables – which have been very expensive for some time – for their families on a daily basis.The most popular fruits are citrus (41.4%), followed by watermelon (35.1%) and grapes (11.6%). The tomato remains the queen of vegetables, with 44.4% preferring it.Most of those queried (54%) said they prefer tomatoes in salad, while 17.9% eat it as is and 11% like them in shakshuka (cooked with other vegetables and poached eggs).Lettuce was the second most popular vegetable and the cucumber (which does not offer much nutritionally) was way behind with 17.4%. A total of 54.8% put four or more different vegetables in their salads, while 38.2% said three varieties were enough.Asked what they didn’t like about fresh produce, 19% said they didn’t like the strong odor of some kinds, while 17.1% were annoyed by having to peel them.Volcani Institute director Prof. Yoram Kapulnik said the survey shows that most Israelis are aware of the importance of fresh produce and know to consume them in their season. There is no difference among the various parts of the country in preferences for fresh produce and their importance as part of the Mediterranean diet, he added.The representative sample of 499 adults, surveyed by the TNS company, had a margin of error of ±4.4%.