Questions? We're here to help. Health advisors on staff. Call us toll-free at (866) 947-6789.

A Rainbow Harvest – A Crayon Box of Possibilities

Marcia Zimmerman, M.Ed., CN

Today's garden has become a crayon box of possibilities with heirloom and hybrid vegetables available in a wide range of colours. Orange carrots are now passé with the more exciting red, purple, yellow and white carrots capturing the interest of shoppers. Especially intriguing with this trend is the fact that a particular food pigment indicates its phytonutrient pedigree and associated health benefits. Furthermore, unusual colours add phytonutrient benefits. For example, purple cauliflower offers the added benefits of purple phytonutrients to those already in this vegetable. The following table illustrates the connection between a food colour, its corresponding phytonutrient and health benefits.

Food Rainbow

Food Colour Phytonutrients Benefits

Food Colour



Red (watermelon, tomatoes, apples, strawberries, pink grapefruit)

Lycopene, astaxanthin

Helps prevent some forms of cancer, guards against heart, prostate and lung disease

Orange (mango, papaya, citrus, melons, carrots, winter squash)

Alpha, beta, carotene, beta cryptoxanthin

Converted into vitamin A, essential for communication between cells that helps them fight cancer

Yellow (summer squash, corn, pears, bananas)

Lutein, zeaxanthin, limonene, carotenes

Reduces risk of age-related macular degeneration, inhibits cholesterol synthesis that's needed for cancer growth

Green (cruciferous vegetables, mustard, onion family)

Sulforaphane, isothiocyanates, allyl sulfides (onions, garlic, folic acid

Enhances breakdown of carcinogens in liver, helps DNA repair enzymes, helps regulate genetic switches

Purple (berries, grapes, cherries, purple cabbage, eggplant, green and black teas)

Polyphenols, ellagic acid, anthocyanidins

Potent antioxidants, inhibit Angiogenesis, oppose hormone related cancer processes, prevents binding of carcinogens to DNA

Tan (whole grains, legumes)

Vitamin E, isoflavones

Strengthens immune system, neutralizes free-radicals that promote tumor growth, boosts apoptosis, inhibits Angiogenesis

Creamy White (fish, poultry, dairy, oils)

Reduces inflammation, increase cellular communication and uptake of vital nutrients

Of the seven colours listed in the table, five are the colours of the rainbow. Tan earth tones anchor the rainbow and creamy white fills out the palette. The connection between food colour and health benefits hasn't been lost on scientists who have advocated eating a rainbow diet for many years. The US Department of Agriculture emphasized colour in its latest version of the food pyramid. Unfortunately, the connection between the natural pigments in food and their healing properties was overlooked.

Why Choose Foods by Colour?

Nature's healing colours are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy oils. When you eat foods of a particular colour, you access the healing power of phytonutrients. Scientists are just now beginning to understand the medical power of phytonutrients and why eating fruits and vegetables is our greatest preventive tool against conditions such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Traditional healers have taught for many centuries that colour-coded eating is essential for maintaining health, vitality, and long life. The 7-Color Cuisine System has emerged from this foundation in traditional medicine and modern scientific investigation.

The cornerstone of the 7-Color Cuisine System is my nutrition guide and cookbook; 7-Color Cuisine - Making Colourful Food a Lifestyle for Nutrition and Good Eating. The book is for busy people who need to improve their diet but don't know where to begin. It is a total culinary experience in which the reader is carefully guided through four steps that provide a feast for the eyes, a treat for the palate and nourishment for the mind/body.

The Four-Step Plan

Get Set

The first step prepares readers for a new way of eating by carefully examining their attitudes about food and their personal dietary pitfalls. Detailed pantry shopping lists are provided and include staples that can be ordered from NOW Foods. These include:

Dried Fruit
Apples, tropical fruit, coconut, crystallized ginger

Amaranth, bulgur, flax seeds, kasha, millet, oats, quinoa, brown rice

Oat, rice and wheat bran

Protein Powders
Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, orange crème

Almond, amaranth, arrowroot, rice, semolina

Nuts & Seeds
Almonds, Brazils, cashews, filberts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin, sunflower seeds

Coconut, macadamia nut, olive, rice bran

Real berry, green, tropical, and omega bars organic sprouted Virta bars

Sweeteners get special discussion in 7-Color Cuisine because Polyols such as xylitol, and erythritol are natural replacements for sucralose (Splenda). This first book in the 7-Color System does not include recipes for baking, but it does include conversions for sugar in recipes.

Go Shopping

7-Color Cuisine refers shoppers to natural foods stores and local farmers markets with an emphasis on buying organic staples and fresh local produce in season. The weekly menu plans list the staples and fresh food items that will be needed for the recipes that week. A handy day-at-a-glance and week-at-a-glance design makes it easy for readers to have everything ready for meal preparation.

Fix Meals

Engaging one's mind while preparing meals is a unique part of 7-Color Cuisine. The beauty of colourful food and creating dishes that are visually pleasing can be soothing and an excellent anecdote to the stresses of a busy day. This is a good time for couples to create meals they will enjoy together and for children to learn good nutrition.

Savour Every Bite

It is important to revive the tradition of families dining together. Research has shown that children make better food choices when dining with parents. Food that is attractively arranged is more appealing and helps improve digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Readers are taught how to use “intuitive eating” to determine when satisfied and prevent overeating. Counting colours instead of calories has made 7-Color Cuisine the perfect plan for sustained weight management.

Supplement Your Colours

As a nutritionist, I endorse the use of supplements for health. They can be used in either of two ways; for maintenance of good health, or as therapy to correct imbalances. All seven colours should be included in supplements in this program. The emphasis is not on super high potency. Rather, it's on balance and inclusion of the phytonutrients found in each colour. These are the supplements I suggest:

Red, Orange, Yellow

Veggie Carotenoids, alpha and beta carotene, lutein and lycopene and a complete blend of carotenoids from broccoli, spinach, tomato, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower, parsley, and carrots.


Pomeratrol, Pycnogenol, and grape seed extract with bioflavonoids.


Eco-Green Multiple


Tru-E Bio Complex, only non-GMO soy E with all eight tocopherols and tocotrienols bio-balanced to match ratios that naturally occur in food.

Creamy White


Whey protein powders (Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry) and Orange Crème soy protein powder are featured in breakfast smoothie recipes.

7-Colored snack bars are also suggested. These include Real Berry, Real Green, Real Omega and Real Tropical. Organic raw sprout bars in Chocolate Coconut and Raspberry round out colour choices.

Health Disclaimer. Content provided by NOW Foods. Copyright ©2006. Published with permission. Marcia Zimmerman, M.Ed., CN, is one of the natural product industry's foremost authorities on nutrition, wellness and human health.