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VCU Massey Cancer Center


Diet and nutrition: eat the rainbow

VCU Health and Massey registered dietitian Allie Farley provides nutrition tips and information on the connection between diet and cancer. Visit Allie's Diet and Nutrition blog to read more. If there is there a topic that you would like to see covered, send your requests to

What does it mean to “Eat the Rainbow”? A balanced diet should include a variety of colorful plant-based foods rich in phytochemicals. Phytochemicals, also referred to as phytonutrients, are substances that give plant-based foods not only their color but flavor and texture as well. Foods found to have phytochemicals are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, beans, herbs, spices, nuts and seeds. Different colors of plant-based foods tend to provide different phytochemicals.

Why is this all important? The consumption of phytochemicals has been associated with a reduced risk of several types of cancers, including breast, lung and colon. Additionally, evidence-based research proposes that consuming foods rich in phytochemicals may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes.

Goals for fruits and vegetables recommended by MyPlate ( are dependent on your age, activity level and gender. However, the standard recommendation for adults is one and a half to two cups of fruits and two to three cups of vegetables every day. An easy way to make sure you are consuming enough is to fill at least half of your plate at each meal with raw or cooked vegetables and/or fruits. Make eating fun and brighten up your plate by including a variety of different colors!

For more information on phytochemicals, a list of food sources and possible benefits go to:

 Massey does not endorse all integrative and complementary practices. We only recommend those that are known to be safe and have the potential to improve health when used alongside, and never in place of, professional medical care. All cancer patients are advised to consult with their physician before starting any integrative practice, as some may interfere with medical care.

Written by: Massey Communications Office

Posted on: June 29, 2018

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