Health Victories

Color me healthy: Stop cancer by shopping for colorful produce

Written by Amanda Reiter

You may have heard the saying “Eat the Rainbow” but what does this mean and why is it important? Consuming a wide range of food helps your body get all the vitamins and minerals it needs to prevent certain diseases and deficiencies. Did you know that consuming different fruits and vegetables can prevent as many as one in five cases of cancer? Phytochemicals, found in fruits and vegetables, give these foods their distinct color, flavor, and texture. They also help fight off cancer causing free radials that damage DNA and lead to the development of cancer.

Listed below are the different colors of the rainbow and the foods that are associated with that color. Additionally, nutrients provided by these foods are listed underneath.


  • Tomatoes, kidney beans, strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, pink grapefruit, cranberries, red apples, red grapes, red pepper
  • Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Potassium


  • Carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, cantaloupe, peaches, mangoes, oranges
  • Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Potassium


  • Yellow summer squash, corn, pineapple, lemons, yellow pepper
  • Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Potassium


  • Zucchini, cucumbers, asparagus, artichokes, limes, green grapes, green apples, kiwi, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts, kale, beet greens, turnip greens, collard greens
  • Vitamin K, fiber

Blue and purple:

  • Beets, purple eggplant, purple grapes, blueberries
  • Vitamin C, Fiber


  • Onions, garlic, mushrooms, cauliflower, potatoes
  • Anti-inflammatory


  • Cinnamon, nuts, brown rice, whole wheat, other whole grains, flax seed, chocolate, coffee, tea
  • Anti-inflammatory

It is recommended that half of your plate contains fruit and vegetables to reach the suggested daily intake of 1.5-2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables. Meal planning is a great way to ensure you are consuming at least 2 different colors per meal to have a variety of phytochemicals in your diet. Now that you have read about why “Eating the Rainbow” is important, here is a sample 1 day color-packed menu to help you get started on meal planning:

  • Breakfast: southwest vegetable frittata (contains red pepper and onion) with a sliced green apple on the side
  • Lunch: chicken stir fry that has broccoli, yellow pepper, carrots in it
  • Dinner: baked salmon with roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprouts with a side of raspberries and blueberries.
  • Snack: cup of Greek yogurt with sliced peaches