Foods with Yang Properties

January 5, 2013 Trisha Han Self-Help TopicsWellness & Prevention

This article is better to be read after our separate article “Most of Your Problems will be Gone after Balancing Your Yin and Yang”. That article tells us the importance of balancing our Yin and Yang. Today let me introduce some food with Yang properties. So, if you have too much Yin in your body, you need to eat the following foods.


A famous Chinese herbalist, Sun Si-Miao, once said, “When we are sick, the best healer is food; when food can’t cure us, then we use herbs.”  It is very important to know what the proper foods to eat are, given a specific condition or illness.  The first step is determining the nature of your illness–whether you have Yin deficiency and excess heat, or Yang deficiency and excess cold.  The next step is to understand your food’s Yin and Yang properties, whether they are cold or warm natured foods.  The ultimate step is using cold-natured foods to counter excess heat, and warm-natured foods to counter excess cold, balancing the Yin and Yang in the body to restore health.

In the previous blog, we introduced several foods with Yin properties–that is, foods that are cold- or cool-natured.  Here, we will introduce to you several foods with Yang properties, or foods that are hot- or warm-natured.   The most notable warm-natured food is ginger.

Ginger is pungent and spicy in flavor, warm-natured, and a sweet, aromatic root. If you will recall, foods with Yin properties are typically flat and bitter in taste, cold- or cool-natured, and have the ability to suppress excess Yang energy.  Ginger, on the other hand, embodies all of the characteristics of a typical food with Yang properties–spicy and warm, light and aromatic, with the function of suppressing Yin energy and dispelling coldness.

There is an old Chinese adage that goes something along these lines: “Daikon radish when you go to bed and ginger when you get up, saves you from going to the doctor’s for a check-up”.  This means that, in the morning when the Yang Qi levels are rising in the body, having some ginger will help Yang Qi rise to a healthy level and promote circulation as well as the body’s various metabolic processes.

When you get the common cold, headache or congestion from being out in the cold for too long, it is beneficial to drink some ginger tea. Ginger tea can also help ease an upset stomach due to exposure to wind or cold.  Usually I drink ginger tea with some brown sugar to balance the spiciness; it is generally a nice, soothing beverage to have on a cold winter’s day.

People with the following signs of Yin deficiency: red tongue with a thick coat of yellow, redness in the eyes–should avoid ginger, because it will only worsen excess heat in the body.


Chives are, without question, a food with Yang properties–it is warm-natured, slightly spicy in taste, and can replenish the kidneys by restoring Yang.  Chives are a wonderful vegetable for those with body types sensitive and susceptible to cold.  Those who are sensitive to heat and prone to inflammation and irritation should not eat chives.

Chives are best eaten in the springtime, when Yang Qi levels in the body are rising; it has the ability to replenish the spleen and stomach, which in turn restores the whole body.


Pumpkin is a warm-natured squash with a mildly sweet taste; it pertains to the spleen and stomach meridians and can replenish Qi in the body. For people with diabetes, pumpkin is a very suitable vegetable, because it can prevent blood sugar levels from fluctuating spontaneously, thus stabilizing the condition. People with diabetes or high blood sugar should add pumpkin, along with bittermelon and Chinese Yam  into their diets, because those vegetables can maintain steady levels of blood sugar in the body.

However, pumpkin should not be eaten excessively, because it can 1) cause athlete’s foot and 2) cause jaundice.  Because pumpkin contains a lot of natural yellow pigment, known as carotene, it can appear on the skin if eaten too much.

Pumpkin can be easily incorporated into one’s diet by making pumpkin porridge, soup, pie, or simply steaming pumpkin slices.


Many people don’t enjoy eating green onion, garlic, or onion, because it has a heavy odor that often lingers in one’s mouth long after eating.  Not to mention, they make one’s eyes water when chopping them. But in many countries, onions have been named the “queen of vegetables”, and are used commonly in various recipes.

We can generally say that the vegetables and herbs having a spicy, strong flavor typically contain Yang properties, like chili peppers, black pepper, onion, garlic, etc.  These vegetables can stimulate Yang Qi and promote its flow within the body, and cause sweating to deliver internal toxins out of the body.

Onions have a sweet, mildly spicy taste, and are a warm-natured food; it has functions within the liver, spleen, kidney and lung meridians.  It can stimulate appetite, strengthen the spleen, and repair Qi within the body.  But its main function is dispelling wind cold; if you have the common cold, have chills but your body refuses to sweat, it is beneficial to eat onions.  You will find that, quickly, your symptoms of a stuffy nose and absence of sweat will disappear. However, if your body has excessive heat, it would be better to not eat onions. I know someone who coughs whenever he eats onions. This is because his body has excessive heat; onion adds more heat on top of that, and a cough is the body’s irritated response towards the excessive heat.

Trisha Han, Licensed Acupuncturist & Herbalist
Mother Nature’s Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
Austin, TX
Phone: (512) 217-3855



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