The Benefits of Eating a Rainbow Diet

If you’re looking for a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you may want to consider eating a rainbow diet. A rainbow diet is one that features many different colors in the food consumed each day. This type of eating can help provide all the essential nutrients needed for good health and ensure an adequate intake of minerals and vitamins. In this article, we’ll explore some of the benefits of eating a rainbow diet and tips on how to “eat the rainbow”.

While it has been known that eating fruits and vegetables is healthy, it has been challenging to help individuals find the variety needed to support phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals for health. The Rainbow Diet, made popular by Dr. Deanna Minich, is a simple diet approach to make food selection easier by incorporating a spectrum of various colored plant-based foods.s

Phytonutrients make foods different colors.

What do the Rainbow Colors Mean? Fruits and vegetables contain colorful pigments from their phytonutrients. In fact, plants contain over 25,000 phytonutrients. These pigments relate to a phytonutrient or phytonutrient category. For example, orange-colored vegetables are associated with beta carotene, green vegetables with chlorophyll, and purple with flavonoids.  

Red foods-Red foods are often associated with reducing inflammation and supporting the immune system because they are high in antioxidants and carotenoids. These colored foods are especially important to those with diseases of chronic inflammation because they contain antioxidants and provide immune support through ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and other phytonutrients such as lycopene, astaxanthin, fisetin, and anthocyanins. Acerola cherry, rosehips, red bell pepper, and tomatoes are very high in vitamin C. Cherries and strawberries fight inflammation and are known to help people with conditions such as arthritis.  

Orange foods-Orange foods are known to support reproductive health through hormone function, reproduction, and fertility. Yellow foods-Yellow foods support digestion by providing fiber to support the microbiome, gastric motility, and gastric secretions.

White foods-White foods help the body with detoxification, supporting the liver to remove toxins and waste products.

Blue-Purple foods-These food colors offer nutrition for the brain. They support cognition, assisting with learning, memory, and mood.

Green foods-Green leafy foods Green support heart health because they contain nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, potassium, naturally occurring nitrates, and folates. They support blood vessel health, circulation, and methylation.  

Benefits of Eating a Rainbow Diet There are numerous benefits to eating a rainbow diet, including:

Improved overall health – Eating foods packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can help boost your immune system and give you extra energy throughout the day.

Reduced risk of chronic disease – By consuming various colorful fruits and vegetables, you can reduce your risk for many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.

Improved gut health – Adding various colors to your diet can help keep the good bacteria in your gut healthy and functioning correctly. This helps with digestion and may even help reduce inflammation throughout your body.

Decreased Inflammation-Diets high in fruits and vegetables provide phytochemicals that lower inflammation. When you have diseases such as arthritis chronic joint pain disease, autoimmune disease, or other chronic conditions, lowering inflammation is important.

Supports psychological health-Studies show that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables supports psychological health.

How to Start Eating a Rainbow Diet Switching to a rainbow diet doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some tips for getting started:

Start small – You don’t have to drastically change your diet overnight. Begin by including a few new colors of fruits and vegetables each week. Try out a new fun vegetable or fruit each week. According to the Institute For Functional Medicine, the goal should be to have at least 2 colors per day as a guide for getting your phytonutrients.

Plan ahead – Making a meal plan for the week can help you stay on track with your rainbow eating habits.

Utilize frozen produce – Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts, and they tend to be less expensive. Keep it fun – Eating a rainbow can become tedious if you eat the same things over and over again. Try making new recipes with different combinations of fruits and vegetables each week.

Eat a variety of food colors to get phytonutrients

Foods You Can Include on the Rainbow Diet Here are some examples of fruits and vegetables that you can include in your rainbow diet:

Red: Strawberries, red peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, cranberries, beets, and acerola cherry

Orange: Cantaloupe, oranges, carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes, tangerines, yams, and peaches

Yellow: Bananas, yellow squash, pineapple, apples, lemon, ginger

Green: Broccoli, spinach, asparagus, bok choy, lettuce greens, green beans, limes, avocado, olives, and pears

Blue/Purple: Plums, blueberries, eggplant, purple cabbage

White: Garlic, mushrooms, potatoes, turnips, parsnips

Summary Eating a rainbow diet can be an easy and effective way to incorporate more vitamins and minerals into your daily meals. With a little planning ahead and some creative recipes, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the many benefits of eating a rainbow. Benefits of this type of eating include improved overall health, reduced risk of chronic disease, better gut health, better immune health, and better mental health. To start incorporating a rainbow diet into your meals, try planning ahead for the week, and keeping it fun with new recipes. Fruits and vegetables you can include in your rainbow diet are red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple, and white. With a little effort, you’ll be enjoying the many benefits of eating a rainbow in no time!


Minich DM. A Review of the Science of Colorful, Plant-Based Food and Practical Strategies for “Eating the Rainbow”. J Nutr Metab. 2019 Jun 2;2019:2125070. doi: 10.1155/2019/2125070. Erratum in: J Nutr Metab. 2020 Nov 28;2020:5631762. PMID: 33414957; PMCID: PMC7770496.

Minich, D. The Rainbow Diet: A Holistic Approach to Radiant Health Through Foods and Supplements (Eat the Rainbow for Healthy Foods). Conari Press, 2018.

Institute for Functional Medicine (2022) Micronutrient-Phytonutrients. Version 3.

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