Warm and Cool foods: teachings from Traditional Chinese Medicine

Published : 10.11.2017 14:54:29
Categories : Eat Well , Healthy habits

When I was a boy (and still today) my parents would always tell me what foods reduces or increases our internal heat... this knowledge has always helped us to stay healthy unconsciously. Below is a basic explanation of this ancient concept.

The ancient Chinese have long ago determined that a lot of chronic ailments our bodies endure is due to an imbalance in our internal temperature and energy (or Qi) which affects our organs. This concept of finding a balance in the Yin & Yang has identified that foods’ nutritional properties can be split between Warm, Cool and Neutral foods. I recently found out that Iranians also follow this concept towards leading to a healthier body and mind!

Our genes and our diet naturally may shift our internal body towards warm or cool symptoms. We therefore need to first understand our body before adapting our diets!

Understanding your body before applying this concept will help you deal with treating your chronic symptoms in the long run; we Chinese also believe that this way of eating also allows us to adapt to our environment and reduce the risk of illnesses, such as a change in season, where we will tend to eat foods that will increase our inner heat to cope with the winter chills.

Warm and Cold foods in Iranian ancient medicine

WARMING foods (Yang): raises the body’s inner heat

Effects of warming foods

Improves the circulation and nourishes the energy (qi) of our organs.

Symptoms when too “warm”

Thirst, body feeling hot, burning of bowel movement, anxiety, red eyes, dark yellow urine, rapid pulsations, ulcers in mouth, cold sores, constipation, red tongue, pungent wind & stools, headaches, heartburn, vivid dreams.

Warm food sources




Meat/seafood /dairy


(Typically sweet fruits )
Coconut, guava, chestnut, apricot, lychee, mandarin, mango, peach, raspberry.

(Typically "pungent" vegetables)
Onions, leek, chives, mustard greens, pumpkins, spring onions.

Walnuts, pistachio nuts, pine nuts, malt, glutinous rice, chestnuts.

Butter, chicken, lamb, mussels, prawns, venison.

Black pepper, sugar, cinnamon, clove, coffee, cumin, fennel seed, garlic, ginger, ginseng. nutmeg, vinegar, wine.

COOLING foods (Yin): reduces the body’s inner heat

Effects of cooling foods

Calms the blood, clears toxins and reduces heat.

Symptoms when tool “cool”

Diarrhoea, lack of energy, sore joints, oedema, bloating, fluid retention, stomach pains after eating / drinking cold things, cold body, cold feet, cold hands.

Cool food sources




Meat/seafood /dairy


(Typically sour fruits)
Apple, grapefruit, kiwi, citrus fruits, pear, pineapple, strawberry, watermelon, banana.

(Typically “watery” vegetables)
Asparagus, bamboo shoots, celery, cucumber, green leafy vegetables, eggplant, lettuce, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes.

Barley, millet, soy bean, tofu, wheat, buckwheat.

Cheese, egg whites, cream, rabbit, seaweed, yoghurt, clam.

Chrysanthemum, salt, sesame oil, soya sauce, tea.





Meat/seafood /dairy


Figs, goji, plum, papaya, olive, berries, grape.

(Typically root vegetables)
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro, turnip, black/white fungus mushroom, carn, pumpkin.

Almond, black soybean, black sesame, peanut, peas, rice, rye, beans.

Beef, milk, pork, fish, scallop, duck, oyster, abalone.

Honey, peanut oil, saffron, licorice.

This list of foods is only an indication of which foods fall into the category of Warm, Cool or Neutral... I recommend you research this topic further to complete this list for your daily diet!

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