Eating the rainbow - what are the benefits of yellow and orange plant foods?

April 16, 2023

Curious about the health benefits of phytonutrients from bright and beautiful yellow and orange fruits, vegetables and spices? 

When it comes to eating a healthy diet, there’s no reason why it can’t also look appetising. In fact, making your plate as vibrant and pleasing to the eye as possible is one major way to boost your intake of vitamins, minerals and powerful plant compounds called phytonutrients that boost the body’s natural antioxidant defence system. Phytonutrients not only imbue foods with every colour of the rainbow but also provide their flavour, smell, and many health benefits. Yellow and orange plant foods contain a unique profile of phytonutrients that can support your health in some surprising ways. 

Keep scrolling to learn about the benefits of including more yellow and orange plant foods on your plate.

What are the benefits of yellow and orange fruits, vegetables and spices? 

The most significant benefits of eating yellow and orange plant foods are the high levels of beta-carotene or “pro-vitamin A”. Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A in the body and is necessary for healthy eyesight, skin cell turnover, reducing inflammation in the body and aiding in wound healing.1

Lutein and zeaxanthin are also found in high amounts in yellow plant foods. Similar to beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are a type of carotenoid that helps to keep skin looking luminous, boosts immunity and protects your vision. 1

What are some of the best yellow and orange foods to include in your diet? 

Enjoy one to two serves of any of these foods every day for optimal health: 

  • Banana
  • Yellow pear 
  • Papaya
  • Mango 
  • Pineapple 
  • Lemon 
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Yellow peach
  • Oranges, mandarins and tangerines 
  • Carrots 
  • Yellow and orange capsicums 
  • Pumpkin 
  • Butternut squash
  • Yellow squash 
  • Sweetcorn 
  • Turmeric root 
  • Ginger 

Ways to include more yellow and orange plant foods in your diet
Including some of these foods in your daily meals doesn’t have to be difficult - in fact, you probably already eat many dishes that include one or two of the above. The catch with getting the most out of these foods is that beta-carotene requires a healthy fat source for absorption, so enjoy these foods alongside fat from avocado, nuts, coconut or oils from olives, macadamias or walnuts. 

Here are some easy ways to enjoy more of these foods: 

  • Frozen mango, ginger and turmeric smoothie 
  • Sweet potato, carrot and turmeric dahl 
  • Roast pumpkin soup with a dollop of Greek yoghurt
  • Side dish of roast carrots topped with olive oil and toasted nuts and seeds
  • Coleslaw with grated carrot and yellow capsicum 
  • Fruit salad of papaya, orange, peach and mango 
  • Sweet potato gnocchi 
  • A side of roast sweet corn 
  • Freshly squeezed orange, carrot and ginger juice 
  • Turmeric and ginger tea

Learn more about the benefits of green, red, yellow/orange, and white plant foods over at the blog. 


  1. Johnson, E.J. (2002). The role of carotenoids in human health. Nutr Clin Care, 5(2):56-65.