Central to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM for short) is the idea that foods are either warming or cooling. These fundamental thermal properties are in all kinds of foods, people and cooking methods. Learning the warming and cooling characteristics of foods and using them to create a thermally balanced meal is essential to maintaining digestive fire, the key to digestive health. Warming food help to enhance energy and send heat to the surface of the body. Prolonged overheating, however can burden the liver. While cooling foods flush energy and heat from the body. Too many cooling foods may weaken the function of the spleen.
Cooling and Warming Foods:
Root vegetables or plants that take long time to grow from the soil often have warming properties. Foods that are orange, red or yellow colour like winter squashes are often warming foods as well. In contrast, cooling foods are leafy greens that grow upwards to the sky or just hang on a tree like sprouts or salad greens. Blue, purple and green coloured foods like eggplants, algaes and seaweeds also typically have cooling properties.
Cooking methods also affect the thermal properties of foods. Raw foods and foods that are eaten cold are very cooling. On the other hand, roasted and baked foods are warming. Deep frying foods also generates a lot of heat, but is not recommended in healthy diet.
Balancing Heat and Cold:
Balance of hot and cold at every meal is important for bringing balance to your body. Cooling foods can be cooked, balanced with warming spices or some red colored vegetables. Smoothies could be warmed with ginger, turmeric, goji berries or cinnamon or even try a red smoothie instead of a green one to balance cooling. Those with cool constitutional body typed should eat more warming foods whereas those with a hot constitution should eat more cooling foods. Eating based on your body type is important to bring balance back to the body. Check with your TCM doctor or herbalist to discover your body type.
Want to learn more about diet and Traditional Chinese Medicine? Book a tour with Bonnie at our Kerrisdale or Burnbay Crest locations.