Paint your plate with color and beneficial nutrients

National_Nutrition_Month_Dana_FarberLast year, in honor of National Nutrition Month®, Dana-Farber Nutritionist, Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN, shared her top 5 cancer-fighting foods. This year Kennedy is honing in on color and the role it plays in health and wellness.

“The saying ‘eat the rainbow’ is crucial for health and wellness,” says Kennedy. “Each color family offers unique but equally important types of phytonutrients and/or natural plant-based nutrients. It’s typically the natural compounds in plants that give them their color, and these colors are beneficial for supporting our immune system.”

According to Kennedy, here are the best ways to add some color and paint your plate with nutrients:


Make it a red-letter day with the following foods: beets, red peppers, tomatoes, apples (w/skin), cherries, cranberries, grapefruit, red grapes, pomegranates, radishes, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon.

Why: These foods are great for your immune system. Red fruits and vegetables contain lycopene, a phytonutrient with antioxidant activity, and ellagic acid which helps reduce inflammation. Cooked tomatoes consumed with a healthy fat like olive oil or avocado as part of a well-balanced, plant-based diet may help to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.


Hello, yellow. Add apricot, cantaloupe, carrot, guava, mango, orange, papaya, peach, pumpkin, squash (butternut), sweet potato, tangerine, turmeric into your diet for some orange and yellow flair.

Why: Keep your heart and vision healthy with orange and yellow fruits and veggies. Foods like carrots and oranges contain beta and alpha carotene antioxidants, and are members of the carotenoid family. You can also find potassium in these foods, which is important for a healthy heart and blood pressure, and provide replenishing electrolytes.


Holy, guacamole! Go green: artichoke, asparagus, avocado, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cilantro, collard greens, greens (leafy), kale, kiwi, lettuce, okra, parsley, spinach, turnip greens, and watercress.

Why: Foods like avocadoes contain nutrients like magnesium, folate, calcium and iron which support bone and heart health.


Got the blues? Blackberries, blueberries, eggplant, plums, prunes are what you need.

Why: Blue and purple foods contain antioxidants like anthocyanin that helps inflammation, heart health, and immunity.


Show us those pearly whites by adding onion, cauliflower, and garlic to your plate.

Why: White fruits and vegetables contain allium, allicin, sulphoraphane, isothiocyanates/cruciferous that supports liver health and immunity.

For recipes that include cancer-fighting foods like the ones above, check out Dana-Farber’s free nutrition app Ask the Nutritionist: Recipes For Fighting Cancer.

Lindsay Rowntree
Associate Director, Online Marketing