Wednesday, October 2, 2013

真的吗?: Heating and Cooling foods





My supermarket is on fire this month. These rich, warn colors fill me up and over with joy and happiness. But what if I told you, they actually cool me down. Chinese medicine teaches that the body's yin (cooling) and yang(heating) can be balanced by an individual's diet and so accordingly, have arranged food into groups based on the energy they provide the body.

Let start with peppers, chili and ginger. When we consume them, we feel a burn  from mouth through tunnel to end, even hours or days later. These are considered heating foods. Other examples of high energy foods are chicken, mutton, shrimp, pumpkin, onion and some red-colored fruits. This is not a myth. Prior to my knowledge on this topic, there were two occasions where eating pumpkin soup lead to me removing my jacket....in a 15 degree Celsius environment. I must also clarify that a hot meal does not guarantee making you feel hot but in fact, may cool you down depending on its main ingredients. For instance while hot green tea cools your down, hot chocolate heats you up. In Chongqing, high energy foods are often eaten to balance the effect of high humidity on the skin by literally 'pushing' the water out.

Milk, eggs, pork, beef, most beans, nuts and  fish, and in contrast to its color, carrots produce neither high or low energy and therefore serve as fillers in most meals.

Foods that remove heat are tofu, seaweed, most green vegetables and citrus fruits as well as fruits with a high water content like watermelon, pineapple and dragon fruit. What a blessing to have fruit and sunshine!

Expert holds various opinions on foods and their energies. Cooking techniques and the presence of other ingredients etc. also have the ability to change their effect. For instance, pig heart and meat are considered neutral whereas pig liver is considered heating. Therefore, these aren't hard and fast rules, just assistance when you experience different seasons and climates and need to cool down or heat up as necessary. Experiment sometime and let me know your experiences below.

For more reading check out the following links:
English:
http://www.rxt.com.sg/tcm-tips-heaty-cooling-food.php
http://lilorangepaperclip.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/tcm-cooling-and-heaty-foods/
Chinese:
http://hyinglu.blog.163.com/blog/static/191557202201172711153917/