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Rainbow of colors

Eat plenty of colorful fruits and veggies to improve your health and spruce up your plate. Add variety and reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Check out the health benefits of each color group below:


Benefit: Preventing risk of cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes

The red color of these fruits and veggies comes from pigments called “lycopene” and “anthocyanins.” Lycopene can reduce your risk of certain types of cancer, especially prostate cancer. Anthocyanins act as powerful antioxidants, protecting you from heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Examples include:

  • Beets
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Pomegranates
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Red apples
  • Red cabbage
  • Red grapes
  • Red peppers
  • Red potatoes
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

Orange and yellow

Benefit: Supporting healthy eyes, organs, and immune system

Many of these orange and yellow fruits and vegetables have pigments called “carotenoids.” Your body converts carotenoids into vitamin A, which promotes healthy organs and eyes. Carotenoids also boost your immune system, keeping you protected from illness. Citrus fruits like oranges are not a good source of vitamin A, but they have plenty of vitamin C and folate, a B vitamin that may lower risks of birth defects.

Examples include:

  • Apricots
  • Butternut squash
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Sweet corn
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Mangoes
  • Oranges
  • Papayas
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pineapple
  • Pumpkin
  • Rutabagas
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tangerines
  • Yellow peppers
  • Yellow nectarines
  • Yellow tomatoes
  • Yellow watermelon


Benefit: Better vision, heart health, and more

A pigment called “chlorophyll” creates the green color in these fruits and veggies. Some members of this group, including spinach and other dark leafy greens, contain lutein. Lutein works with other chemicals in your body to promote better vision and heart health. The “indoles” found in broccoli and other similar veggies may also protect against some types of cancer.

Examples include:

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cucumbers
  • Green apples
  • Green beans
  • Green cabbage
  • Green grapes
  • Green onions
  • Green pepper
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Lettuce
  • Limes
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini

Blue and purple

Benefit: Healthy aging and protecting cells from damage

Like the red group, these fruits and vegetables get their color from pigments called “anthocyanins.” Anthocyanins protect cells from damage, reducing your risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Recent studies also show that eating more blueberries may improve your memory and promote healthy aging.

Examples include:

  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Eggplant
  • Figs
  • Juneberries
  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Purple grapes
  • Raisins


Benefit: Boosting heart and stomach health

The white color in these fruits and vegetables comes from a pigment called “anthoxanthin.” Many of these fruits and veggies have health-promoting chemicals like allicin. This plant chemical can help lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, and reduce your risk of stomach cancer or heart disease.

Examples include:

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

This newsletter is adapted from “What Color is Your Food” by North Dakota State University Extension. See the article for more information.