The Chinese Medicine View on Hot and Cold Foods

My patients know I’m a nutrition nut.  They’ve all heard my spiel on how healthy eating can affect chances of conception.  I talk about a lot about food preparation, sugar consumption and buying organic. How you prepare your food is important, but the type of food it is matters too.

Chinese Medicine and Hot & Cold Foods

This can sound odd, but in Chinese medicine, there are strong views on what makes a food “hot” or “cold” (regardless of whether it’s fresh out of the oven or the fridge), and how understanding hot and cold foods can impact your health. Let me explain.

When we think of hot foods, a bowl of soup might come to mind.  When we think of cold foods, maybe ice cream. From a Chinese medical perspective, all foods can be divided into five temperature categories: cold, cool, neutral, warm and hot.  These  are the properties of foods before they’re prepared or cooked.

For example, spinach is considered a cool vegetable, watermelon is a very cold fruit, and beef is warm protein.   When you cook your food, the property shifts because you are adding warmth.  Fruits are hardly cooked or baked (unless it’s Thanksgiving), so they generally remain in their original categories.  Spinach that is steamed or sautéed becomes a neutral vegetable; cooked chicken shifts into the neutral category too.  According to Chinese medicine, your foods should always be cooked.  More on that topic to come.

So how do you know which foods belong in what category?  Subscribe to my blog and I’ll send you a food list as a guideline to get you started.  It’s important to note: Just as everything in Chinese medicine related, dietary therapy is also individualized. So, figuring out a personal nutrition plan for you (hot, cold, neutral foods and all) is the optimal step.

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