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Home > Diet & Nutrition > Chinese Nutrition

Chinese Nutrition by Food Group

Compiled by Dr. David Chan

Chinese nutrition is the tasty counterpart to Chinese herbology. The only significant difference between the two is that the nutrition tends to be more appetizing than the herbal tea formulas.

The basis for therapeutic qualities is exactly the same. On a related page, we take a look at a list of desired results of food remedies, followed by the foods that will provide these therapeutics.






Spices and Herbs

Miscellaneous Foods


Five element differentiation


Beef: neutral, sweet, Sp & St Qi & Blood Tonic
Lamb: warm, sweet, Sp, Ki, Qi Tonic, Warms Interior
Ham: warm, salty, Sp Qi Tonic, Produces fluids, subdues Reb. Qi
Pork: neutral, sweet & salty, Sp, St, Ki, Lubricates dryness (Ni: sl. cold)


Duck: neutral, sweet & salty, Lu, Ki, Facilitates water passage, reduces, swellings
Chicken: warm, sweet, Sp, St, Qi Tonic, Warms Interior


Chicken egg: neutral, sweet, Blood tonic, lubricates dryness
Egg white: cool, sweet, detoxifies, lubricates Lu, cools hot sensations, benefits throat
Egg yolk: neutral, sweet, Ht & Ki, blood tonic, lubricates dryness
Eggshell: checks gastric acid, arrests bleeding


Milk: neutral, sweet, Ht, Lu, St, Lu & St tonic, produces fluids & lubricates the intestines
Butter: warm, sweet, Yang, Qi & Blood tonic, circulates blood


Shrimp: warm, sweet, Kidney Yang tonic
Eel: warm, sweet, Liv, Sp, Ki, Qi tonic, treats Bi syndrome, strengthens bone
Mussel: warm, salty, Liv & Ki Qi tonic, treats simple goiter
Abalone: neutral, sweet & salty, detoxifies, sharpens vision
Shark: neutral, sweet & salty, Sp, Tonifies Qi, Blood, & Yin lubricates dryness, reduces swelling, tonifies 5 Zang
Carp: neutral, sweet, Sp & St, facilitates water passage, promotes milk secretion, heals swelling
Cuttlefish: neutral, salty, Liv & Ki, Blood tonic, sharpens vision
Oyster: neutral, sweet & salty, Blood tonic
Oyster shell: cool, salty, Liv & Ki, stops sweating, astringes Jing, softens hardness
Saltwater clam: cold, salty, St, promotes water passage, eliminates phlegm, softens hardness
Freshwater clam: cold, sweet & salty, Liv & Ki, detoxifies, sharpens vision
Crab: cold, salty, Liv & St, activates blood, cools heat sensations facilitates recovery of dislocations
Kelp: cold, salty, St, softens hardness, facilitates water passage
Seaweed: cold, salty, softens hardness, eliminates phlegm, promotes water passage


Five element differentiation


Glutinous rice: warm, sweet, Sp, St, Lu, Sp Qi tonic
Malt: sl. warm, sweet, Sp & St, promotes digestion
White rice: neutral, sweet, Sp & St, Sp Qi tonic
Rice bran: neutral, sweet & pungent, St, LI, descends energy
Rye: neutral, bitter, dries dampness, diuretic
Whole wheat: cool, sweet, Ht, Sp, Ki, Ht & Ki tonic
Wheat bran: cool, sweet, St, cools St Fire,
Buckwheat: cool, sweet, LI, St, Sp, Qi & Blood tonic, clears Heat sedates Yang,
Job's Tears: cool, sweet, Sp, Lu Ki, detoxifies, Sp & Lu Qi tonic, diuretic
Barley: cool, sweet & salty, Sp & St, regulates St, expands intestines, promotes urination
Millet: cool, sweet & salty, St, Sp, Ki, Qi & Blood tonic, clears heat, lubricates dryness, Tonifies Yin, benefits digestion detoxifies


Soybean Oil: hot, pungent & sweet, lubricates intestines Sword bean: warm, sweet, Ki, St & LI: warms interior, tonifies Ki, descends Reb Qi.
String bean: neutral, sweet, Sp & Ki, Qi, Blood & Yin tonic
Yellow soybean: neutral, sweet, Sp & LI, Qi tonic, lubricates dryness, eliminates edema
Black soybean: neutral, sweet, Sp & Ki, circulates Blood & fluids treats Bi syndrome, detoxifies
Corn: neutral, sweet, LI & St, Qi & Blood tonic, diuretic
Hyacinth bean: neutral, sweet, Sp & St, Qi tonic, eliminates edema
Broad bean: neutral, sweet, Sp & St, Qi tonic, eliminates edema
Peas: neutral, sweet, Sp & St, Qi & Blood tonic, descends Reb Qi, diuretic, induces bowel movements
Kidney bean: neutral, sweet & bland, diuretic, heals swellings
Adzuki bean: neutral, sweet & sour, Ht & SI, diuretic, heals swellings, detoxifies
Castor bean: neutral, sweet & pungent, Lu & LI, detoxifies & heals swellings, induces bowel movements
Mung bean: cool, sweet, Ht & St, detoxifies, clears heat, diuretic
Soybean: cool, sweet, LI & Sp, Qi & Blood tonic, clears Heat, lubricates dryness, eliminates edema
Tofu: cool, sweet, Sp, St, LI, Qi tonic, produces fluids, lubricates dryness, detoxifies


Walnut: warm, sweet, Ki & Lu, Ki tonic, lubricates intestines, astringes Jing
Chestnut: warm sweet, Sp, St & Ki tonic, circulates Blood & stops bleeding
Peanut: neutral, sweet, Sp & Lu, Qi & Blood tonic, lubricates Lu, harmonizes stomach
Peanut Oil: neutral, sweet, Qi & Blood tonic, lubricates intestines, pushes accumulations downward
Almond: neutral, sweet, Lu, Qi & Blood tonic, lubricates Lu, relieves cough, transforms phlegm, lowers Reb Qi


Cottonseed: hot, pungent, Sp & Ki, Sp & Ki tonic, arrests bleeding, stops Sp Qi sinking
Sunflower seed: warm & neutral, sweet & bland, Liv & LI, stops diarrhea, facilitates eruption of measles, subdue Liv
Pinenut: warm, sweet, Lu, LI & Liv, lubricates Lu & LI, stops cough, Qi, Yang & Blood tonic, promotes fluids, moves Stagnant Blood, expels cold & wind
Dill seed: warm, pungent, Sp & Ki, Qi & Yang tonic, moves Stagnant Blood, regulates Qi, expels cold
Fennel seed: warm, pungent, St, UB & Ki, Qi & Yang tonic, moves Stagnant Blood, regulates Qi, expels cold, harmonizes St
Bitter apricot seed: warm, pungent & bitter, toxic, Lu & LI, stops cough, relieves asthma, lubricates intestines
Sweet apricot seed: warm, pungent & sweet, Lu, LI, Sp, Sp Qi tonic, lubricates intestines, stops cough
Sesame seed: sl. warm, sweet, Liv & Ki tonic, lubricates intestines, "blackens" gray hair, general tonic
Black sesame seed: neutral, sweet, Liv & Ki tonic
Cherry seed: neutral, bitter & pungent, LI, promotes measle eruption, detoxifies
Lotus seed: neutral, sweet & harsh, Sp, Ht & Ki tonic, Qi & Blood tonic, constricts the intestines
Sesame oil: cool, sweet, St, detoxifies, lubricates dryness, promotes bowel movements, produces muscles



Guava: warm, sweet, (St & LI) obstructive & constrictive, stops diarrhea & bleeding
Chinese Date (red & black): warm, sweet, Sp & St, Qi & Blood tonic, produces fluids, detoxifies,
Longan (Long Yan/Dragon's Eyes): warm, sweet, Sp & Ht, Yang, Qi & Blood tonic, removes Blood Stag., calms Shen
Coconut milk & meat: warm, sweet, produce fluids, promote urination, kills intestinal worms
Peach: warm, sweet & sour, (Lu & LI), activates Blood, Qi, Blood & Yang tonic, produces fluid, lubricates intestines, stops cough, expels cold
Raspberry: warm, sweet & sour, Liv & Ki, Liv & Ki tonic, controls urination, astringes Jing
Litchi: warm, sweet & sour, Sp & Liv, Yang, Qi & Blood tonic, Regulates Qi & Blood, soothes Liv & calms Shen
Cherry: warm, sweet & harsh: Qi, Yang, & Blood tonic, activates Qi & Blood, expels Cold, Wind, & Damp
Kumquat: warm, pungent, sweet & sour, (Lu & Sp), circulates Qi, relieves cough, transforms Phlegm
Dried Mandarin orange peel: warm, pungent & bitter, Sp & Lu, regulates Qi, dries dampness, transforms Phlegm
Hawthorn Fruit: sl. warm, sweet & sour, Sp, St & Liv, harmonizes Middle Jiao, removes Qi, Blood & Food Stagnation (esp. meat), expels tapeworms


Papaya: neutral, sweet, (Sp, St, Lu & LI), promotes digestion, destroys intestinal worms, lubricates Lu, stops cough
Figs: neutral, sweet, Sp & LI, St tonic, detoxifies
Grape: neutral, sweet & sour, Lu, Sp & Ki, Qi & Blood tonic, strengthens tendons & bones, promotes urination
Crab apple: neutral, sweet & sour, Ht, Liv & Lu, quenches thirst, stops diarrhea, astringes Jing
Olive: neutral, sweet & sour, Lu & St, Qi & Blood tonic, clears Lu, benefits throat, produces fluids, detoxifies
Loquat: neutral, (sweet & sl. bitter),(Lu, St & Liv), lubricates dryness, harmonizes St & soothes Liv, descends Reb. Qi, stops cough
Apricot: neutral, sweet & sour, Lu, lubricates Lu, produces fluids
Pineapple: neutral, sweet & sour, Qi & Blood tonic, promotes urination & digestion, quenches thirst, stops diarrhea, clears Summer Heat
Plum: neutral, sweet & sour, Liv & Ki, produces fluids, promotes digestion & urination, soothes the Liv
Sour Plum: neutral, ex. sour, Liv, produces fluids, destroys worms


Lemon: cool, ex. sour, promotes fluids, harmonizes St, relieves thirst
Mango: cool, sweet & sour, (St & Lu), Qi & Blood tonic, benefits St, relieves vomiting, quenches thirst, diuretic
Mandarin Orange: cool, sweet & sour, (Lu), diuretic, lubricates Lu, relieves cough, transforms Phlegm
Apple: cool, sweet & sour, Lu & St, produces fluids, lubricates Lu, promotes digestion, relieves intoxication
Strawberry: cool, sweet & sour, Lu & Sp, lubricates Lu, produces fluids, detoxifies alcohol
Pear: cool, sweet & sl. sour, Lu & St, produces fluids, lubricates dryness, transforms phlegm, clears Heat
Persimmon: cold, sweet, Ht, SI, Lu (& Sp), Qi, Blood & Yin tonic, quenches thirst, lubricates Lu, benefits Sp, clears Heat
Watermelon: cold, sweet, Ht, St & UB, promotes urination, lubricates intestines, quenches thirst, clears Summer Heat, detoxifies
Banana: cold, sweet, lubricates intestine, detoxifies
Grapefruit: cold, sweet & sour, (St & Sp) harmonizes Middle Jiao, circulates Qi, detoxifies alcohol.
Star Fruit (Carambola): cold, sweet & sour, (St, Ki & UB) clears Heat, produces fluids, promotes urination(treats stone Lin), detoxifies
Muskmelon: cold, sweet, Ht & St, clears Heat, quenches thirst, promotes urination,



Leek: warm, pungent, Liv & Lu, Qi & Yang tonic, regulates Qi, removes Blood Stagnation, expels Cold, sedates Yin, clears St Fire
Scallions: warm, pungent, Lu & St, Assists Yang, tonifies & regulates Qi, clears Heat, sedates Yang, dries Damp, diuretic, removes Blood stagnation, expels Cold
Mustard Greens: warm, pungent, Lu, Qi & Yang Tonic, circulates Qi & Blood, expels cold, sedates Yin, expands Lu, transforms Phlegm
Squash: warm sweet, Sp & St, Qi, Yang & Blood tonic, circulates Blood, heals inflammation, relieves pain


Chinese cabbage: neutral, sweet, St & LI, promotes digestion & urination, tonifies Ki & Brain.
Carrot: neutral, sweet, Lu & St, Sp Qi tonic, dries dampness & Phlegm
Corn: neutral, sweet, St & LI, Qi & Blood tonic, regulates Middle Jiao stimulates appetite, diuretic
Black Fungus: neutral, sweet, St & LI, Qi & Blood tonic, cools Blood, stops bleeding
White Fungus: neutral, sweet, Lu, Yin tonic, produces fluids, lubricates Lu
Pumpkin: neutral, sweet, (Lu & Sp), Qi & Blood tonic, dries Damp, diaphoretic
Potato: neutral, sweet, Sp, Sp Qi tonic, heals inflammation
Sweet Potato: neutral, sweet, Lu, Sp & Ki, Qi, Blood & Yin tonic, benefits Kidneys, astringes Jing
Shiitake Mushroom: neutral, sweet, St, Qi & Blood tonic, benefits St
Celery: neutral, sweet bitter, St & Liv, Qi & Blood tonic, clears Heat, sedates Yang, dries Damp, calms Liver, expels Wind
Taro: neutral, sweet & pungent, St & LI, Qi, Yang & Blood tonic, circulates Qi & Blood, clears Heat, reduces swellings
Turnip: neutral, sweet, pungent, bitter, Qi, Yang & Blood tonic, circulates Qi & Blood, clears Heat & Yang, dries Damp, diaphoretic, lowers Reb. Qi, detoxifies Yin tonic, clears Heat & Fire, dries Damp, clears Lu, lubricates Dryness, diaphoretic


Alfalfa sprouts: cool, bitter, St & Sp, benefits St & Sp, dispels Damp- ness, lubricates intestines
Asparagus: cool, sweet & bitter, Lu & Ki, Qi, Blood & Yin tonic, clears Heat & Fire, dries Damp, lubricates Dryness, clears Lu, diaphoretic
Lettuce (Iceberg): cool, bitter & sweet, St & LI, Qi & Blood tonic, clears Heat & Yang, dries Dampness & diuretic, aids lactation
Cucumber: cool, sweet, Sp, St & LI, clears Heat Yang, & detoxifies, promotes urination & quenches thirst
Eggplant: cool, sweet, Sp, St & LI, Qi & Blood tonic, clears Heat & Yang, removes Blood Stagnation, relieves pain, heals swelling
Mushroom (button): cool, sweet, Lu, LI, St & Sp, Qi & Blood tonic, clears Heat & Yang, calms Shen, stimulates appetite, regulates Qi, transforms Phlegm
Spinach: cool, sweet, LI & SI, Qi & Blood tonic, clears Heat & Yang, hemostatic, lubricates Dryness
Winter Melon: cool, sweet, Lu, LI, UB, & SI, detoxifies, diuretic, transforms Phlegm
Swiss Chard: cool, sweet, Su, LI, Sp & St, Qi Y Blood tonic, clears Heat & Yang, detoxifies, hemostatic, relieves coagulations
Watercress: cool, sweet & pungent, Lu & St, Qi, Yang & Blood tonic, circulates Qi & Blood, clears Heat & Yang, lubricates Lu, quenches thirst, diuretic
Radish: cool, pungent & sweet, Lu & St, Qi, & Blood tonic, clears Heat & detoxifies, transforms Phlegm-Heat, lowers Reb. Qi
Bamboo shoot: cold, sweet, Tonifies Qi, Blood & Yin, clears Heat, detoxifies (often used to balance warm energy of meat)
Kelp: cold, salty, St & Sp, Yin tonic, clears Heat, lubricates Dryness, softens Hardness, promotes flow of Water
Lotus Root: cold, sweet, Sp St & Ht, Qi, Blood & Yin tonic, cools Blood (when raw), stimulates appetite, produces muscles, relieves diarrhea (when cooked)
Water Chestnut: cold, sweet, Lu & St, clears heat, Yin tonic, trans- forms Phlegm, diuretic
Lettuce (Romaine): cold, bitter, LI & St, Qi & Blood tonic, clears Heat & Yang, dries Dampness, diuretic


Dried Ginger: hot, pungent, Lu, St & Sp, Yang & Qi tonic, circulates Blood, warms Middle Jiao, opens the meridians
Pepper (black & white): hot, pungent, St & LI, warms interior, descends Reb. Qi
Pepper (red & green): hot, pungent, Ht & Sp, warms interior, harmonizes Middle Jiao, stimulates appetite
Cinnamon Bark: hot, sweet & pungent, Sp, Ki, UB, diaphoretic, strengthens St, warms surface & interior
Fennel Seed: warm, pungent, Ki, UB, St, Warms Interior, circulates Qi
Sweet Basil: warm, pungent, Lu, LI, Sp, St, Qi & Yang tonic, circulates Qi & Blood, harmonizes St
Dillseed: warm, pungent, Sp & Ki, Qi & Yang tonic, circulates Qi & Blood
Garlic: warm, pungent, Sp, St & Lu, Qi & Yang tonic, circulates Qi & Blood, warms Middle Jiao, destroys worms
Clove: warm, pungent, St, Sp & Ki, Yang tonic, warms Interior
Fresh Ginger: warm, pungent, Lu, St & Sp, diaphoretic, Yang & Qi tonic, circulates Blood, transforms Phlegm, stops vomiting
Coriander: warm pungent, Lu & Sp, diaphoretic, harmonizes Middle Jiao
Nutmeg: warm pungent, Sp & LI, Qi & Yang tonic, warms Interior, circulates Blood, warms Middle Jiao, lowers Reb. Qi
Cinnamon Twig: warm, pungent & sweet, UB, Ht, Lu, diaphoretic, warms Upper Jiao
Star Anise: warm, pungent & sweet, Sp, Ki, Liv, Yang tonic, circulates Qi, harmonizes St, stops vomiting
Caraway Seed: warm, sl. pungent, Ki & St, circulates Qi, descends Reb Qi
Spearmint: warm, pungent & sweet, (Lu & Sp), diaphoretic, circulates Qi & Blood
Ginseng: warm, sweet, & sl bitter, Sp, Lu (Ht), Qi tonic, produces fluids, calms Shen
Rosemary: warm, pungent, (Lu, St), diaphoretic, activates Blood, strengthens St, calms Shen
Saffron: neutral, sweet, Ht & Liv, circulates Qi & Blood, eliminates Blood Stagnation
Licorice: neutral, sweet, Sp, St & Lu, lubricates lungs, detoxifies, moderates effects of other herbs
Peppermint: cool, pungent, Lu & Liv, diaphoretic, regulates Qi & Blood
Marjoram: cool, pungent, (Lu & Sp), diaphoretic, circulates Qi, drains dampness

Miscellaneous Foods

Brown sugar: warm, sweet, Liv, Sp & St, Qi tonic, circulates blood
Vinegar: warm, sour & bitter, Liv & St, disperses coagulations, detoxifies, arrest bleeding
Wine: warm, sweet, bitter & pungent, Ht, Liv, Lu & St, promotes blood circulation, expels cold, speeds up effects of herbs
Coffee: warm, sweet & bitter, Ht, Heart tonic, stimulant, diuretic
Molasses: warm, sweet, Lu & Sp, Qi tonic, lubricates Lu, stops cough
White sugar: neutral, sweet, Lu & Sp, lubricates Lu, produces fluids, Qi tonic
Honey: neutral, sweet, Lu, Sp & LI, detoxifies, lubricates dryness, relieves pain
Tea: sl cold, bitter, sweet, Ht, Lu & St, quenches thirst, promotes digestion & urination, awakens Shen
Salt: cold, salty, St, Ki, SI & LI, detoxifies, clears Heat, lubricates dryness, Yin tonic


  1. The Tao of Nutrition, by Dr. Ni
  2. Chinese System of Food Cures, by Henry Lu
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