How to Add Yin and Yang Foods Into Your Life

Yin and yang is a main principle of Chinese medicine, and it applies to all aspects of health and life including food. Yin tends to be more feminine in nature, while yang tends to be more masculine. Together, they represent the dynamic balance of opposing forces.

According to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), each individual has their own unique presence of yin and yang in their body, which means we should try tailoring our diets accordingly in order to better support our health. 

Enter yin and yang foods. 

If someone has more yin (feminine) energy, they can balance it out by eating more yang foods. The same goes for those individuals with more yang (masculine) energy, only with yin foods. 

Pretty nifty, right? Here’s how to incorporate yin and yang foods into your life.

yin and yang foods

Yin foods list

According to TCM, yin foods are associated with water and are more cooling in nature. Some examples of yin foods include:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Bean sprouts
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chickpeas 
  • Cucumber
  • Edamame 
  • Grapes
  • Honey
  • Leeks
  • Lemon
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Mushrooms
  • Pears
  • Seaweed
  • Soybeans
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Tofu
  • Turnips
  • Water
  • Watermelon
  • Yogurt

In Ayurvedic practice, many of these foods can even be enjoyed during the hot and humid summer months to help keep you cool during the dog days of summer.

Yang foods list

On the other hand, yang foods are associated with fire and tend to produce heat in the body. (Make note of these for winter.)

  • Alcohol
  • Apricot
  • Beef
  • Black pepper
  • Caffeine
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chicken
  • Chili peppers
  • Cinnamon
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Fried foods
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Hot peppers
  • Lamb
  • Oats
  • Onions
  • Peanuts
  • Pepper
  • Pumpkin
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Shellfish
  • Sweet potato
  • Wheat

Umm, is there a Switzerland when it comes to food? Yes! There are some foods that are considered neutral and they include carrots, dates, duck, peaches, peas, pork, rabbit, raisins, and rice.

Yin and yang foods for you

How do you know which foods are right for you? Well, no matter if you’re feeling more yin or yang energy in your body, everyone may feel better by eating more cooling foods in the hot summer months and warming foods in the cold winter months. (That’s a good place to start.)

However, if you want to get specific, Kayvan Beklik, a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner who trained in China and the UK, has some tips.

He explains that someone who easily tires, feels cold all of the time, or is pale in color should probably eat more yang (warming foods) while someone who doesn’t sleep well and feels easily angry, hot, and irritable should probably eat more yin (cooling foods).

“Women who are trying to get pregnant should probably eat more warming foods because the cold pattern of infertility is the most common one according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, but diet alone is definitely insufficient for fertility enhancement,” notes Beklik.

As you may have guessed, it takes professionals years to master TCM, but an ordinary person can get a rough idea of whether to eat more yin or yang foods by looking at their tongue in the mirror. 

“Broadly speaking, if the tongue is red, they have excess yang, so they should eat more yin foods to balance that out,” says Beklik. “If the tongue is pale, then they have excess yin and should consume more yang foods to balance it out.”

If you’ve done the tongue test correctly and start making these dietary changes, Beklik notes the cold and tired patient should feel a bit more energetic and warmer, while the hot, insomniac, and irritable person should feel calmer, cooler, and sleep a bit better at night.

“The reason I emphasize the words ‘a bit’ is that food medicine is much milder than acupuncture or herbal medicine, thus people with more symptoms are likely to require professional assessment and treatment as well,” says Beklik.

The bottom line: If you’re looking for more balance in your life, especially when it comes to your diet and food choices, consider trying some yin and yang foods. 

“Food medicine fascinates people, and the idea that it is something they can do themselves, for free, or for the price of the ingredients, is empowering to them, and there is little harm in trying it out,” says Beklik.

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About Ashley Martens

Ashley Martens is a Wellness Writer based in Chicago, Illinois. With a lifelong passion for all things health and wellness, Ashley enjoys writing about topics to help people live happier and healthier lives. With a foundation in fitness, food, and nutrition, Ashley covers it all including sexual health and travel topics.