Studio High Street Blog

How does Yin & Yang relate to food?

Mar 28 2018 Olivia Hammerschmidt

The balance of Yin and Yang is a concept within Traditional Oriental Medicine (and commonly known here as Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM). Both cold and heat can be in excess or deficiency within the body causing illness or disease. In an optimum state of health, yin and yang works together in harmony- adjusting the balance as required. In TCM, the two more significant qualities in the medicinal use of food are cold(yin) and heat (yang).

Bringing the body into a state of balance, maintaining the proper balance of (yin & yang) energies in the body can be achieved via your diet. Have you ever noticed preferring certain foods in particular seasons?

Which Foods are Yin and Which foods are Yang?

Heat Excess/Yin Deficiency

When yin energy is deficient, the body starts to show heat signs. You may prefer cold beverages and cool weather.  You may even have inflamed tissues, rashes, or swelling.

The characteristic tendencies of Yin foods are:
– Rich in Potassium
– Grow well in warm and hot climates
– Grow fast
– Bigger, Taller
– Soft, Watery
– Grow straight up into the air
– Leaves are bigger and the leaf edge is smooth
– Cooks quickly

If we eat too much Yin food the body will be slow and soft, we will be tired and need more sleep and the body will be colder.

Yin building Foods

  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Apples
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Bean sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cilantro
  • Clams
  • Crab
  • Dandelion greens
  • Fish
  • Honey
  • Kelp
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Nettles
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pomegranates
  • Radish
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelons
  • Yams
  • Zucchinis

Small amounts of these foods should be eaten regularly. Raw foods are generally cooling.  Avoid stimulating foods like caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and pungent spices.

Cold Excess/Yang Deficiency

When yang energy is deficient, the body begins to slow down, showing signs of diminished activity and coldness. You are attracted to warmth, warming food and drink. It is important to build up the yang energy to bring balance back to the body.

Yang-Building Foods

  • Basil
  • Black beans
  • Black pepper
  • Cabbages
  • Cayenne
  • Cherries
  • Chives
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Dates
  • Dill
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Horseradish
  • Kale
  • Lamb
  • Leeks
  • Mochi
  • Mussels
  • Mustard greens
  • Oats
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Peaches
  • Quinoa
  • Radishes
  • Scallions
  • Shrimp
  • Walnuts
  • Watercress
  • Winter squashes

Avoid cold foods, cold liquids, and too many raw foods.

The characteristic tendencies of Yang foods are:

Rich in Sodium
Grow well in cool places or in winter
Grow slowly
Small, short
Hard, containing little water
Grow along the top of, or straight down into the ground
Smaller leaves with jagged edges
Takes a long time to cook and becomes harder with cooking

Eating excessive amounts of Yang food will make the body harder with faster motion, warmer but with a shorter temper.


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