Beat the Heat with Chinese Medicine: Cooling Foods for a Sizzling Summer

Summer’s here, and with it comes the blazing sun, sweltering days, and the constant struggle to stay cool. While cranking up the AC and reaching for icy treats might be tempting, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a delicious and natural way to beat the heat from the inside out.

The Power of Cooling Foods

TCM views summer as the season of “fire,” a time when the body’s energy, or Qi (pronounced chee), resonates with the fiery heat outside. This can be beneficial for those who tend to run cold, but for most, it can lead to an internal imbalance manifesting as:

  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Excessive sweating
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Digestive issues
  • Headaches

The key to staying comfortable in summer is to support your body’s natural cooling mechanisms. Here’s where TCM’s concept of cooling foods comes in. Certain foods are believed to have cooling properties that help counteract the summer’s heat and restore balance within your body.

Your Summertime Grocery List

Fruits & Vegetables: Stock up on these hydrating and naturally cooling options:

  • Watermelon: The quintessential summer fruit, watermelon is over 90% water, making it a fantastic way to stay hydrated and cool down.
  • Cucumber: Another hydrating hero, cucumber is packed with vitamins and minerals and adds a refreshing crunch to salads and snacks.
  • Leafy Greens: Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and bok choy are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and water, keeping you cool and nourished.
  • Other Cooling Choices: Don’t forget berries, pears, apples, celery, asparagus, and mung beans!


Bitter is Better: Bitter-tasting foods, despite their initial flavor, are considered cooling in TCM. They may help to clear heat from the body and reduce inflammation. Try incorporating:

  • Bitter Melon: This unique vegetable has a loyal following in TCM for its cooling properties.
  • Dandelion Greens: These readily available greens offer a surprising amount of vitamins and minerals and a mild bitterness.


Herbs & Grains: Enhance your dishes and cool down with:

  • Mint: A refreshing herb that cools the body and aids digestion.
  • Peppermint Tea: Enjoy a soothing cup of peppermint tea for a refreshing pick-me-up.
  • Barley: This versatile grain is naturally cooling and can be enjoyed in soups, salads, or even as a side dish.


Tips for Maximizing Your Cooling Diet
  • Embrace Fresh: When possible, find your fruits and vegetables fresh.  In season food in your area is ideally suited to help balance the season.
  • Light Cooking: Steaming, boiling, and stir-frying are gentler cooking methods that preserve the cooling properties of your ingredients.
  • Limit Heating Foods: Spicy, fried, and greasy foods are seen as “heating” in TCM and can exacerbate summer discomfort.


Remember: Chinese Medicine is a holistic approach to health. Incorporating these cooling foods into your summer diet alongside proper hydration and sun protection helps you stay cool, balanced, and enjoy the warmth of the season!

Disclaimer: This blog post provides general information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a qualified TCM practitioner for personalized dietary recommendations.