ying vs yang 2

Specific Foods.


Meats. The most yang are cooked eggs and red meats such as lamb, beef, rabbit and especially wild game. The next most yang are poultry such as chicken, ostrich, duck and turkey. Dark meat is more yang than white meat due to its iron content and other differences. Fish tend to be more yin, especially today as they contain more mercury and other toxins due to contamination of the oceans.

Cooking the meat and adding some salt makes it even more yang. Eating food raw or pureed makes it more yin.


Grains. Grains that are most yang include millet, rice, amaranth and buckwheat. Corn is somewhat less yang. However, blue corn is a superior food today because it is less hybridized and contains a very helpful form of selenium.

Quinoa, kamut and other grains are slightly more yin, but fine to eat. Oats, rye, barley and wheat are less yang due to extensive hybridization. These are not as healthful today mainly for this reason. Please avoid all wheat, as it has become an irritating food due to hybridization.

White rice and white flour are much more yin than natural brown rice and natural whole wheat. This is one reason we recommend brown rice, in addition to its superior nutrient content.


Methods of preparation:


Cooking grains or any food, and adding some salt, makes them more yang.

Pressure cooking makes a food a little more yang, which is generally very good. Cooking at high temperature (baking or roasting) or cooking for a long time is also more yang, but damages the nutrients in the food, so I do not recommend it. Some baked vegetables are okay, but do not use baking or roasting exclusively.

Fermenting grains or any food, tends to make them more yin because ferments (yeasts and fungi) are very yin organisms. Also, aldehydes produced by most fermenting organisms is a more yin toxin.

Sprouting grains makes them more yin. Some sprouts are fine as a vegetable, but sprouts contain a toxin and should be eaten in limited quantities only.

Soaking any food makes that food a little bit more yin.

Stir-frying or deep frying makes a food more yang. This is one reason why Oriental cooking uses stir-frying. The problem with deep frying is overheated oils may be toxic. Also, just stir-frying does not cook vegetables enough. We need them soft, not crunchy. So if you stir-fry, add water to the pot and let the vegetables cook more in the steam until soft.


Vegetables. Those that grow below ground are more yang, such as rutabaga, turnip, parsnip, carrot, onion, garlic, and ginger. Yams and sweet potatoes grow below ground, but are much less yang because they contain more sugar and starch.

Those with leaves are less yang but also excellent. These include cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, celery and a few others.

Nightshade vegetables are much more yin because they are really fruits. The botanical definition of a fruit is something with seeds. Said differently, a fruit is an expanded ovary of a plant. The seeds are like the eggs of a plant.

The nightshade vegetables include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and all peppers. They contain a toxin called solanin. These include white and red potatoes, all types of tomatoes, eggplant and both sweet red and yellow peppers, green peppers, ground pepper, and all hot chili peppers. Of these, the chile peppers are the best if one wishes to have a little salsa now and then.

Other vegetables that are really fruits and therefore more yin are cucumbers, okra, and the entire squash family. These include zucchini, summer squash, butternut, spaghetti, acorn squash and others. Some of the winter squashes are not too yin (butternut, spaghetti, and acorn types), but the summer squashes such as zucchini are quite yin and best avoided.

Fungi, such as mushrooms are more yin because this is a quality of all yeasts and fungi.

To review, raw vegetables are far more yin than cooked vegetables. Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut are more yin than cooked vegetables.


Eggs and dairy products such as milk, cream, cheese and yogurt. Since these are animal-derived, they tend to be more yang foods. Eggs are among the most yang foods available as they nourish a young life that starts out very yang.

Dairy products are much less yang than eggs or even meats, but still more yang than fruits and raw vegetables, in most cases. Fresh, unpasteurized and unhomogenized dairy is best, as it is more yang. Pasteurizing adds heat, but damages the milk so it becomes toxic and thus more yin.

Cheese and yogurt are quite a bit more yang than milk, as they have much less sugar in them. Butter, and especially ghee (clarified butter) are also much more yang than milk. Ghee is used in India, in part, for this reason. Ghee is butter with the milk solids removed by gently heating it for a few minutes.

Fruits: All fruit tends to be very yin. Fruit grows above ground, and anatomically all fruits are expanded parts of plants. The least yin are small, tart fruits such as some berries. The sweeter the fruit, the more yin, since it contains more sugar. Some, such as strawberries are very yin, even if they are not sweet. This is due in part to the fact that the seeds are scattered throughout and on the outside of the plant.

Juicy fruits such as apples, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, loquats, and others are in the middle among the fruits.

The most yin fruits, and therefore those to be avoided, generally, are:

1) Very sweet fruits, (figs, dates, raisins and bananas).

2) Tropical fruits, such as coconut, palm and all citrus fruits. These include orange, lemon, lime, tangerine, pineapple and grapefruit). Of these, grapefruit is probably a little better as it is less sweet, but all are very yin and should be eaten extremely sparingly, if at all while on a nutritional balancing program. Those who are ill are best avoiding all fruit.



ying vs yang

All of this is to bring yin and yang into balance.

People who live in a yang environment should eat more yin foods and vice versa. One commonsense way of thinking in TCM terms is to pay attention to the five flavors at every meal. “….mix the flavors well and bones will remain straight, muscles will remain tender and young, breath and blood will circulate freely, pores will be fine in texture and consequently breath and bones will be filled with the essence of life. If the people carefully follow the right way as though it were a law, theirs will be a long life.” In theory, the body will attempt to regulate itself according to the flavor ingested because that flavor will affect its associated organ system. It’s a diagnostic tool too; when patients crave sweets we can see that their digestion is out of balance. It “needs” the sweet flavor to help tonify it. (Unfortunately many people use the sweet craving as a reason to overeat sugary foods.) This way of eating, following the flavors, is a good example of how to use the principles of Chinese medicine as preventive rather than palliative care – its basic tenet. Every person can manipulate his or her life force with food and self-care activities like meditation. We can manipulate that energy with needles, herbal prescriptions, moxa, manual therapy and other of our medicine’s modalities

Salt   Eggs   Red Meat   Poultry   Fish   Grains   Vegetables   Fruit   Sugar   Drugs/Alcohol

YANG                                             NEUTRAL                                               YIN


Yang foods. The most yang foods are sea salt, meat, eggs, poultry, fish and cooked vegetables. Plants that grow beneath the ground are more yang, while those that grow up in the air such as most fruit, are more yin. Cooked grains, cooked beans and cooked vegetables are in the middle.

Yin foods. Raw vegetables, and even more so fruits, juices, sugars, alcohol and drugs are more yin (watery and expansive). Also, anything made with water is much more yin such as soups, smoothies, and watery foods such as eggplant and all fruits. Dried fruits are less watery, but are still extremely yin due to their sugar content. Most raw plants and herbs are also very yin. Also, chopping a food into tiny parts, grinding it up, blending it, pureeing it, or juicing it also causes the substance to become much more yin in nature. In contrast, whole foods that are not chopped up are more yang

Yin Qualities:

  • Boiling
  • Poaching
  • Steaming


Yang Qualities:

  • Deep-frying
  • Roasting
  • Stir-frying

Types of Foods: 

Yin Foods Yang Foods
Bean Sprouts Bamboo
Cabbage Beef
Carrots  Chicken
Crab Eggs 
Cucumber Ginger
Duck Glutinous Rice
Tofu Mushrooms
Watercress Sesame Oil
Water Wine