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Fruits and Vegetables: Colors of Rainbow for Better Health

Blue, Indigo and Violet 

Blue, indigo and violet foods contain the compound anthocyanins that not only give food their color but also have been shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and increase heart health.

Foods in this part of the rainbow include:

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries 
  • Purple grapes 
  • Figs 
  • Raisins 
  • Plums, fresh and dried  (prunes)
  • Eggplant


Though while is not part a color of the rainbow, white foods contain properties that have anti-tumor qualities, such as allicin in onions as well as other health-improving antioxidants such as the flavanoids. The white foods, bananas and potatoes, contain potassium as well.

  • Bananas
  • Onions 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Garlic 
  • Ginger 
  • Jicama 
  • Mushrooms 
  • Potatoes 
  • Parsnips 
  • Turnips

Menu Ideas

So how do you do incorporate these fruits and vegetables into your daily eating habits?

Here are some sample menus for you to get you started:


  • An orange. Sauté 1/2 red pepper, ½ onion, 2 shitake mushrooms, 2 cloves garlic. Add 3 cups leafy greens (spinach leaves are fine) and 3 eggs. Cook until eggs are done and serve.
  • Strawberries. Oatmeal made with cubed butternut squash or pureed pumpkin, topped with raw walnut pieces and raw pumpkin seeds.


  • Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with sprouts, lettuce, tomato slices, avocado and grated carrots. Serve with a 2-cup salad made with romaine lettuce and raw cauliflower, broccoli and garbanzo beans.
  • Spinach salad topped with black olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, and cauliflower. Add beans or chicken if you like. Toss with fresh lemon juice and either olive oil or flax oil or a combination of the two. Sprinkle fresh parsley, chopped, on top.


  • Grilled fish or chicken breast or black beans and brown rice (protein). Coleslaw made with green and red cabbage with red onions and grated carrots. Baked yam.
  • Pasta primavera made with spinach fettuccini, sautéed red peppers, onions, garlic, zucchini, carrots, and whatever else is in season.


  • 1 cup blueberries and cantaloupe
  • Jicama slices with salsa and Celery with hummus or peanut or almond butter 
  • Pineapple chunks and banana slices 
  • Raw veggies with your favorite dip. Hummus is a good choice. 
  • Tangerine slices with herb tea

Remember that you need 5-9 cups of vegetables and fruits a day for good health (or half the plate, using the USDA's new MyPlate guide). Make sure at least half of your veggies are raw. Don't forget that juicing can incorporate many colored fruits and veggies easily and may be a good choice for those who may not be able to chew raw fruits and veggies.

April 2, 2014 update: 2014 study by researchers in the United Kingdom has found that eating seven servings per day of fruits and vegetables (especially vegetables, and, for fruit, fresh, not frozen or canned) is strongly linked to decreased overall mortality, and decreased mortality from cancer and heart disease.   

Patty James is a Certified Natural Chef with a Master's degree in Holistic Nutrition, founder and director of the Patty James Cooking School and Nutrition Center, the first certified organic cooking school and nutrition center in the country, and of Direction Five, a non-profit culinary and nutrition program for kids.  She created the Patty James Health Guide, a guide to life-long healthy eating and lifestyle. Patty is a frequent guest speaker in public and private schools around the US, the Clinton Foundation in New York, as well as to health practitioners and organizations. Patty runs Shine the Light On America's Kids, an organization whose mission is to shine the light on all aspects of kids health in America. She is the co-author of More Vegetables, Please! 

Source for update: 

Oyebode O, et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause cancer and CVD mortality: analysis of Health Survey for England data. J Epidemiol Community Health 2014; DOI: 10.1136/jech-2013-203500 (first published online on March 31, 2014)(accessed April 2, 2014)


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