Introducing the Five Energies of Food to help you understand from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective what food choices you need to select to keep your body in balance and healthy. (Author: Cindy Mai from Root + Spring)
In the Western diet, if we are health conscious, we typically assess our food for their calories, fat, carbohydrates, proteins, and other nutritional content. However, in the Chinese diet and according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), there are two additional properties that foods are classified in: “energy” and “flavor”. Today, I introduce you to the ENERGIES and give a few examples of what types of foods could fall into which category.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, foods are just like healing herbs that can and should be selected appropriately for your body whether you need to cleanse, tonify, or regulate your system. There are five total “energies” of food: cold, hot, warm, cool and neutral. Energy, of course, refers not to the actual temperature of the food but the effects they generate in the human body.
Let’s take chrysanthemum as an example. Chrysanthemum has a cold energy, which means that when we consume chrysanthemum whether it be a hot tea beverage, after the temporary heat fades away, cold energy will begin internally. This is why chrysanthemum is known to have a cold energy.
Different energies act upon the human body in different ways and affect our state of health, so it is important to know about the five energies of food. Introducing the five energies of food is very important to your health. If a person suffers from heat rashes and the pain is particularly severe during the summer, eating foods with a “cool” or or “cold” energy can alleviate the pain significantly. Or if a person suffers from joint pain that worsens during the winter, one could find solace in “warm” or “hot” foods.
Introducing the Five Energies of Food (both Chinese and Western) and their energy effect on your body.
Cold: Bamboo shoots, bananas, chrysanthemum, crabs, cuttlefish, clams, spinach, wild rice, grapefruit, tomatoes, sprouts, lettuce, watermelon, kelp, soy sauce, salt, lotus root
Cool: Apples, barley, broccoli, buckwheat, cauliflower, cucumbers, celery, eggplant, coconut, cheese, cream, eggplant, strawberries, oranges, mangoes, mushrooms, peppermint, pineapple
Neutral: Cabbage, carrots, cashews, corn, figs, grapes, lemon, olives, oysters, sugar, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, pistachios, beef, pork, duck
Warm: Asparagus, apricots, chestnuts, cherries, chicken, venison, garlic, ginger, coffee, vinegar, peaches, longans, lychee, rambutan, pumpkin, mussels, lobster, tobacco, scallion, onions, turmeric.
Hot: Black pepper, chili, chili peppers, cinnamon, ginger, jalapeños, mustard, mustard seed.
We hope that by introducing the five energies of food concept to you, it will open your eyes to a new way of thinking about food. When we view food in this context, it’s no longer just eating nourishing healthy food but selecting food that is right for our body types and current condition. Food can actually help or hinder or efforts to recover from ailments or improve our health.
Do you Want to Learn More about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?
Check out these posts…
About the Author:
Cindy Mai is the founder of ROOT + SPRING a shop that provides quality traditional, Chinese holistic remedies and information to everyone. Based in Los Angeles, she sees the need for alternative healthcare now more than ever. Her goal is to provide knowledge on gentle, herbal science, and create innovative herbal products that naturally will make you feel great, from inside out. Healing is within our hands.