Eating the rainbow has many health benefits.

This article was written by Adrian Kohrt of UAF Cooperative Extension Services

Spring is in the air! With the coming of spring, it is time to start thinking of the wide variety of fresh
fruits and vegetables that will soon be available. Red, orange, yellow, green, white, blue and purple – all
the colors in the rainbow of food. You gain many health benefits by eating a wide variety of fruits and
vegetables in a wide variety of colors. Some of those benefits are:
● Improved vision
● Decreased inflammation
● Reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes
● Strengthened immune system
Let’s talk about what each color can do for you, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Red contains lycopene, which assists in heart health and decreases stroke risks. It also fights prostate
and breast cancer and is good for memory and urinary tract health.
Orange and yellow contain carotenoids, which help prevent cancer and decrease body inflammation. It
strengthens our immune system and gives our skin a healthy glow. And don’t forget carrots (orange) are
good for vision health.
Green contains lutein, which is good for eye health also. It strengthens bones, nails and teeth and helps
prevent blood clots. It contains folic acid, a nutrient important for the birth of healthy babies.
Blue and purple contain anthocyanins which are good for our skin and improve memory. Anthocyanins
decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease and lower blood pressure. They also help fight cancers.
White and tan contain allicin, which lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and strengthens our bones. It
also assists in fighting cancer.
Now that we have discussed the benefits of the different colors of fruits and vegetables, let’s talk about
how we can be creative in including them in our diets.
● When making a milkshake, instead of adding ice cream, add frozen bananas and blend with milk.
The texture comes out smooth and creamy and it tastes good! Make sure to use ripe bananas.
● Instead of buying only green peppers, look for a bag of mini peppers that contains green, red
and orange peppers. Interchange the use of the peppers in your recipes.
● Add spinach to your protein shake or milkshake. It changes the color to green, but does not
change the flavor.
● Add blueberries to your yogurt in the morning.
● Try finely slicing radishes and adding them to your potato salad for extra texture.
● Instead of eating french fries, eat sweet potato fries.
● Use purple cabbage instead of green when making coleslaw.

● When a recipe calls for rice, consider using cauliflower rice instead of white rice.
● When shopping with your family, allow your children to pick out fruits and vegetables that
entice them. Encourage them to try different types of fruits and vegetables each time you go
shopping. Look up new recipes together.
● Shop locally! When the farmers market open, try the wide variety of produce that local farmers
have grown. Their products taste better and shopping at the market supports people locally, so
it is a win for everyone!
When planning your meals try to include a wide range of colors of fruits and vegetables. Be
adventurous and try something new each week. You will be amazed at the wide varieties of tastes and
textures that different produce contains. Now is the time to eat the rainbow.
Adrian Kohrt is a family nutrition coordinator for Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University
of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For questions, she
can be contacted at or 907-474-7930.