People in south west Hertfordshire are among the “healthiest” in the country for eating their vegetables. Though still only 13 per cent are eating five or more portions of vegetables a day and a shocking five per cent are eating none at all, a survey has revealed.

Nationally only 10 per cent of those surveyed were tucking into five or more portions of vegetables a day and six per cent were eating no vegetables at all, the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) has discovered.

BANT says the results of the survey, which put the East of England at the top of the league for vegetable consumption, are extremely concerning as a healthy intake of vegetables should be closer to seven-a-day with just a couple of portions of fruit.

BANT Chair Miguel Toribio-Mateas said: “The message to eat more vegetables is a serious one. Research has shown a correlation between mortality rates and lower consumption of these types of foods.

“The idea that fruit and vegetables are interchangeable is no longer supported by current evidence, with vegetables being much more nutrient-dense than fruit, gram per gram.

“Long term deficiencies in these nutrients can lead to all sorts of health problems. Fruit contains valuable nutrients, but it can be high in sugar, so we have to be careful how much fruit we eat, alas eight pieces of fruit and one vegetable portion a day would not be an ideal fruit/vegetable spread.

“Some people just need a bit of inspiration to help change their diets for the better, others need help navigating their way around medications and serious health conditions, but some simple changes could have a very positive impact on so many lives. Changing the way you eat in the long term can prevent debilitating health conditions in the future and save lives, and there is help out there,” he added.