Make colorful changes to your diet to improve health

Jul 10, 2019


While perusing the stands at your farmers market this spring and summer, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a colorful rainbow of fruits, vegetables and berries, each beaming from its individual carton or tray and each packed with its own health benefits. How do you know which to choose?

“Eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins, nutrients, fiber and protein will fuel the body and protect you from chronic diseases,” says Dr. Matthew Satcher, a family practice doctor at Adventist Health Primary Care – Damascus.

Combined with daily exercise and other lifestyle improvements, an improved diet will keep your blood pressure low, keep unwanted weight off, and keep you healthy so you can go hiking in the Gorge or hit the water at Sauvie Island this summer.

Fortunately, Portland has an abundance of local farmers markets tightly packed with vendors selling colorful fruits and vegetables, making it easy to access fresh produce.

The healing properties of food

Food can be used as medicine, either to ease the pain from existing health conditions or to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. That’s one of the biggest reasons why Dr. Satcher recommends eating a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

The easiest way to make sure you’re digesting all the healthy benefits of food is to look at it like a rainbow.


  • Tomatoes are a year-round fruit rich in lycopene, a natural antioxidant known to prevent various cancers. They’re a great source of vitamins C and A and provide B vitamins, potassium and fiber to help combat heart disease and reduce inflammation.
  • Blood oranges and other citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which repairs damaged tissues in your body. They’re also a good source of polyphenols, a plant compound that can help prevent cancer, diabetes and bacterial infections.
  • Red peppers and other bell peppers keep your eyes, teeth and gums healthy. That’s because they’re packed with vitamins C, B6 and A, in addition to antioxidants and phytonutrients that help to prevent diseases.

Orange and Yellow

  • Carrots are high in beta-carotene, a compound that makes them orange and is converted to vitamin A in your liver. Vitamin A protects against macular degeneration and slows down the aging of cells.
  • Peaches are high in vitamin C and have an abundance of minerals—like potassium, an essential mineral for normalizing blood pressure and heart function.
  • Bananas are loaded with fiber and potassium. Within the fiber is a specific probiotic that supports digestive health.


  • Spinach and kale are good sources of vitamins A, C, E and K and an abundance of minerals that protect from inflammation and help fight heart disease and diabetes. Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting, protects the bones from osteoporosis and decreases inflammation.
  • Broccoli is rich in anti-inflammatory substances that regulate blood pressure, clean out your system, prevent cancer, reduce inflammation, and keep your eyes and hair healthy.

Blue and Purple

  • Blueberries and raspberries are rich in fiber and polyphenols that help lower blood pressure, prevent plaque buildup in the arteries, and reduce your risk for heart attack and other cardiac diseases. They may also improve memory function and promote healthy aging.
  • Eggplant is rich in fiber and antioxidants. Eggplant can protect against colon cancer, aids in managing diabetes and helps control high blood pressure.

Local farmers market

There are a number of local farmers markets where you can fill your bags and baskets with your own custom-designed health rainbow. Some to try include:

  • Montavilla Farmers Market
  • Portland Farmers Market at PSU
  • Beaverton Farmers Market
  • Woodstock Farmers Market
  • Lloyd Farmers Market
  • Milwaukie Farmers Market
  • King Farmers Market
  • Lents International Farmers Market
  • Gresham Farmers Market
  • Mount Hood Farmers Market in Sandy

“No matter where you collect your fruit and vegetables, making sure you cover the rainbow will help you stay on track with your health,” says Dr. Satcher. “And if you have any questions about the best diet for you, your primary care provider is happy to help you make a plan and connect you with a dietician if you have special needs.”

If you need a primary care provider, you can begin your personal health partnership with a provider who truly cares about your whole person by calling (503) 261-6929.