Yin and Yang Food – How does it affect you?

Did you know that Yin and Yang, the principle at the heart of Chinese philosophy, also applies to Chinese food and cooking? In Chinese medicine, all foods can be divided into four qis: hot, warm, cool and cold; golden yang, soft yang, soft yin and yin respectively.

In general, yang food improves blood circulation and makes us warm, but too much yang food (or eaten during the wrong season, eg summer) will lead to constant thirst, hot flashes, night sweats, and constipation. On the contrary, yin food quenches thirst, cleanses our systems, and refreshes us, but if eaten improperly, it will lower our metabolism and weaken our body. In particular, according to traditional Chinese, pregnant women are traditionally advised not to eat yin foods (eg crab, watermelon), as they may increase the chance of miscarriage.

So what are some examples of yin and yang food?

Grains and Beans

  • soft-yang (hot food): sticky rice, black rice, barley, sago, sorghum
  • soft yin (fresh food): wheat, barley, green beans, buckwheat, millet
  • right in the middle: Rice, corn, sweet potato, sesame, soybeans, rice, oats, beans, sweet peas, kidney beans, mung beans, lentils, broad beans

Meat and dairy products

  • soft-yang (hot): veal, lamb (lamb), chicken, prawns, lobster, mussels, goat’s milk
  • soft yin (fresh): duck, abalone
  • ying: duck egg, crab, clam, octopus, squid, snail, raw food
  • Just fine: hen’s egg and egg white, pork, scallop, fish, cow’s milk, yogurt

Fruits and Nuts

  • soft-yang (warm): peach, almond, dates, lychee, long yan, lemon, papaya, pine nut, walnut, chestnut, cherry, mango
  • soft yin (cool): apple, pear, orange, strawberry, sunflower
  • ying (cold): persimmon, grapefruit, banana, carambola, kiwi, watermelon, honeydew melon
  • Just fine: plum, pineapple, grape, olive, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut milk, peanut, hazelnut


  • soft-yang (warm): spring onion, garlic, leeks, coriander/parsley, onion, pumpkin
  • Yang (chilli
  • soft yin (fresh): tomato, celery, eggplant, choy shum, spinach, asparagus, artichoke, cauliflower, tofu (including soy milk), gluten, lotus root, winter melon, cucumber, mushroom, needle mushroom
  • ying (cold): bok choy, arrowhead, water spinach, watercress, bamboo shoots, seaweed, mushrooms, bitter melon, water chestnut
  • Just fine: carrot, potato, taro, mushroom, turnip (very mild yin), black fungus (very mild yin)

Other foods and ingredients

  • soft-yang (warm): spices such as young ginger, cloves, dill, rosemary, sage, turmeric, thyme, horseradish, cayenne, nutmeg, wild pepper, cumin, star anise; stimulants such as alcohol, coffee, black tea, and other caffeinated beverages; red sugar, ginseng
  • Yang (spicy): cinnamon
  • soft yin (fresh): green tea, honey, beer, chrysanthemum tea, mint
  • ying (cold): soy sauce, soybean paste, salt

How does this apply to us?

According to the Chinese, each of us is born yin, yang or somewhere in between. For example, if you always crave spicy food, you may have a “yin” body; and if you love watermelon at any time of the year, you are probably a Yang.

Your state of health can also indicate the yin-yang balance of your body.. Constantly cold hands and feet? a ying; Does your throat get sore easily and do you have a bad temper? To Yang. Seasonal and geographic variations will also affect our preference for yin and yang foods.

The advice

  • when cooking yin food (applies to most vegetables), add yang ingredients such as garlic, chives, ginger and coriander.
  • Eat seasonal food: let nature guide us how to eat.
  • Balance diet: If we eat a wide variety of foods, the yin and yang will balance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top