List of Warming and Cooling Foods


by The Body In Form

Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine and other ancient healing practices have always used food as one of the ways to balance the body to help prevent and treat disease.  With the understanding that every type of food contains its own characteristics, these wise healers know that the energy contained in what we eat is not just a matter of calories, carbohydrates, fats, and protein, but also has to do with temperature.

Temperature and Health Conditions

Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors also look at temperature as it relates to health conditions.  In allopathic medicine, we rarely think of a physical problem having hot or cold properties, but in Oriental health practices, the body is considered in terms of these qualities depending on the condition. In this way, specific foods are proscribed to help with the healing process.

Often by instinct we will eat warmer foods in the wintertime and cooler in the summertime, which is our body’s way of helping us to stay in balance.

Warming Foods

Warming foods are yang, which the Chinese represent as the warm, sunny side of a mountain.  They tend to be drying and help to raise the energy of the body by improving circulation and bring heat to the organs, blood, and cells.  The need for warm food is often signaled by these conditions:

  • Cold hands and feet
  • Cold body
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Discomfort after eating or drinking cold foods and beverages
  • Sore joints
  • Fluid retention
  • Lack of energy

Warm foods are generally those that take a longer time to grow.  Incorporating them into the diet can help balance the body if you have any of the above symptoms.  Here is a partial list of warming foods:

Cabbage, kale, mustard greens, onions, garlic, winter squash, pumpkin, parsnip, leek, chives, scallions,

Cherries, nectarines, coconut, avocado, cooked or dried fruits

Oats, nuts, seeds

Butter, soybean oil

Most meats, including chicken and lamb


Cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cloves, dry ginger, basil, rosemary

Cooling Foods

Cooling foods are yin, which are damp and represented by the shady, cooler side of the mountain.  These foods help to clear way heat and toxins, calming the blood and moistening the body. The need for cooling foods is often signaled by these conditions:

  • Hot body
  • Thirst
  • Constipation
  • Strong smelling stool
  • Burning anus after bowl movements
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Heartburn
  • Anxiety
  • Red eyes and face
  • Overly emotional
  • Rapid pulse
  • Headaches
  • Ulcers in the mouth or on the tongue
  • Cold sores
  • Red tongue with yellow coating

Cooling foods generally take less time to grow.  A short list of some of these foods includes:

Lettuce, celery, radish, cucumber, summer squash, broccoli, tomatoes, most leafy veggies, mushrooms, eggplant

Seaweed and seafood

Bananas, pears, oranges, apples, kiwi, watermelon

Millet, amaranth, barley, wheat

Northern, navy, kidney, lima, and mung beans soaked in water 12 hours before cooking

Sprouted grains and legumes

Tofu, egg whites, yogurt

Fresh ginger, mint, marjoram, cilantro, lemon balm,  white peppercorns

Herbal teas, vegetable broths, fruit and vegetable juices

Balanced Foods

Some foods contain naturally balanced thermal qualities.  These include:

  • Root vegetables
  • Black mushrooms
  • Peanuts
  • Olives
  • Lemons
  • Grapes
  • Plums
  • Sunflower seeds

The Color of Food

The color of food can also help you determine its temperature. Green, blue, and purple fruits and vegetables tend to be more cooling than those that are red, orange, or yellow. In this way, a green apple or pepper will be more cooling than one that is red.

The Preparation of Food

How you prepare your food also affects how warming or cooling it will be for the body.  Lightly and quickly cooked foods are more cooling.  Long and slow cooking makes food warmer.

And now… continue your research…

Understanding the principles of warm and cool foods and the properties of yin and yang is an in-depth study that I can only touch upon here.  My goal is to ignite your interest so that you do your own research into the healing benefits of balancing your diet with cooling and warming foods.  What better way to expand and balance your approach to well being!