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Cooling Foods and Warming Foods, How They Affect Your Health

Cooling foods and warming foods

When you hear the phrase cooling foods and warming foods, I am not talking about how to change their temperature: I’m referring to the Chinese medicine characterization of foods based on their ability to affect your energy level and your health. Here are some things you should know about cooling foods and warming foods and how they may help balance your internal climate.

What are cooling and warming foods?

According to traditional Chinese medicine, the foods you choose play a critical role in your overall balance of health. The same thing can be said about Western medicine, however, the basic philosophy behind that balance differs between these two schools of healing.

Western medicine views foods as sources of carbohydrates, fats, and protein, while traditional Chinese medicine or Eastern traditions look at food based on yin and yang: energy qualities that are the basis for everything in the universe. Some foods fall into a neutral area (neither cool nor warm).

An excess or deficiency of yin or yang can result in imbalance. The reason to choose certain cooling foods and warming foods is to help restore your body’s balance and health. If you know the qualities of foods, you can choose those that are most likely to help you restore or maintain balance.

Cooling foods have yin qualities, which are coolness, darkness, and dampness or moisture. They help clear the body of toxins and heat while also cooling the blood.

Cooling foods can benefit people who have any of the following symptoms or characteristics: constipation, thirty, anxiety, red eyes, headache, vivid dreams, oral ulcers, cold sores, rapid pulse, heartburn, yellow or dark urine, perspiration, odorous stools, feeling hot, and red eyes.

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Warming foods have yang qualities, which are warmness, light, and dryness. Foods in this category are said to enhance blood circulation, dispel the cold, and boost energy of the organs.

If you have any of the following symptoms or characteristics, warming foods may help you. They include cold hands and/or feet, diarrhea, stomach pain after consuming cold foods or beverages, bloating after eating, sore joints, fluid retention, and edema.

Choosing cooling and warming foods
Examples of cooling foods include amaranth, apples, asparagus, barley, barley grass, blueberries, blue-green algae, bok choy, broccoli, cantaloupe, celery, chlorella, cilantro, citrus, coconut water, cucumbers, green tea, jack fruit, kiwi, lettuce, mangoes, melons, millet, mulberry, mushrooms, peppermint, tomatoes, and zucchini.

Warming foods include almonds, anise, basil, carob, cherries, chives, cinnamon, cloves, coffee, coriander, cumin, dates, dill, garlic, ginger, kumquats, leeks, mustard greens, oatmeal, onions, papaya, pumpkin, quinoa, rosemary, scallions, vinegar, watercress, wild rice, wine, and winter squash.

Because your body and health are constantly changing over time and with circumstances, including the change of seasons, the cooling and warming foods that are best for you at any given time change as well. For example, if you live in a hot, dry climate, the body tends to lose fluids and to take in heat, thus eating more cooling foods can help restore balance.

An individual who has been trained in traditional Chinese medicine can help you make the most appropriate food choices. Finding the right cooling foods and warming foods that match your constitution, symptoms, and circumstances may restore balance and health.

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