Brrr! Its winter already! Keep yourself warm this season with naturally “heaty” foods!
Most people in Asia can relate to the concept of heaty and cooling foods. It’s most prominently seen in traditional Chinese medicine where yin represents cooling foods and yang represents foods that generates heat in the body. Yin or cooling foods tend to have a moistening effect on the body whereas yang or heaty foods tend to be warm and drying, which make them perfect for the cold, chilly winters.
Almonds: Almonds are a good source of providing warmth to the body. Apart from generating heat, this nut also helps combat anaemia and is a blessing for your heart. Their heat generating powers is one of the reasons it’s advisable to soak almonds in water before consuming them in the summer.
Ginger: Gingerol and shogaol are the compounds responsible for the heat generating qualities, as well as the spiciness of ginger. Add a generous amount in your tea; this condiment is bound to warm you up on a cold wintery evening.
Garlic: Garlic acts as a thermogenic; it increases both your body temperature and your metabolism rate. So if you’re not too put off by that odour, slightly increase the amount of garlic in your curries and enjoy all the health benefits of this little-praised wonder.
Honey: Rich, golden, smooth, just looking at that honey dripping off your pancakes or on your cornflakes can leave you feeling warm and comforted. Now science shows that honey also increases the amount of heat in your body!
Black pepper: Black pepper contains a compound called piperine, which is known to have thermogenic properties. Apart from making you feel toasty; pepper is also good for digestion, gas and is known to have anti-bacterial properties.
Onions: Indian cooking is incomplete without onions! Now there is one more reason to add that crunchy, flavourful onion in your sabzis. Onions are also known to have antifungal and antibacterial properties, which protect you from the flu, which invariably picks up momentum during the winters.
Chilli: The presence of capsaicin in green or red chillies is responsible for that hit of spice as well as for the heating effect chilli has on your body. So spice it up this winter and get cosy!
Coffee: There is a reason why you crave for your favourite cuppa more in the winter. Any warm drink in general will make you feel better but coffee in particular has been known to have heating properties. Strangely enough, tea is considered to have a yin or cooling effect on the body.
Sesame seeds: Traditional Chinese medicine classifies sesame seeds as a yang food product. If your hands or feet are cold despite wearing heavy socks, consuming some of the yang food will warm you up internally.
Cinnamon: Who would have thought this sweet and spicy stick had so much to offer? Grind it up in your tea or add whole to your daily cooking and enjoy its wholesome flavour and warmth.
Even though the concept of heaty foods or yin yang food is mostly alien in the western parts of the world, it’s tried and tested through the centuries in Asian countries.
A word of caution! Excess of heaty food can lead to inflammation; ulcers and can even lead to an outbreak of pimples! So balance your yang with some yin. Barley, tomatoes, watermelons, and bananas are all examples of cooling food.
Try it out this winter and let us know!
Photograph via sxc.hu