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Lily root: "Cold" lily root can help nourish lungs, relieve coughing and sooth nerves.

White fungus: "Neutral" white fungus can help promote fluids, nourish lungs, boost yin (cold) energy and the stomach. It is recommended to relieve coughing and constipation.

Red foods including carrots, hawthorn and tomatoes are connected with fire.

Fire is also linked with summer, happiness, bitterness, the heart and small intestine.

Most red foods or herbs are "warm." Due to its close relation with the heart, red foods are believed to be capable of helping nourish blood, improve circulation, as well as reinforce yang (warm) energy. They are usually recommended for people with anemia, palpitations, cold limbs, pale face and lack of strength.

Though most red foods are warm such as hawthorn, jujube, beef, cherry and saffron, there are "cold" red foods like watermelon and red beans, which are highly recommended in summer.

Modern research shows that most red foods are rich in lycopene and tannin, both of which can protect cells and prevent inflammation. Their rich microelements like iron can help reinforce blood and boost the immune system, just as TCM says.

Red foods: Red beans, jujube, carrot, tomato, red apple.

Rosella: "Cold" rosella is widely used to dispel pathogenic heat, relieve thirst, coughing and high blood pressure in TCM. It is also an antioxidant that helps protect the heart, blood vessels and the liver, according to modern research.

Hawthorn: "Warm" hawthorn can help boost circulation and improve digestion. It is recommended for those with indigestion, high blood fat and amenorrhea due to blood stasis.

Green foods including green vegetables and beans correspond with wood in the five elements. Wood is also linked with spring, anger, sourness, as well as the liver and gallbladder.

Liver dispels toxins from the human body. Too much alcohol and rich protein can harm the liver and cause problems in spring. There is a high relapse rate for liver ailments, especially chronic ones, in spring. Eating more green vegetables in the spring is highly recommended to protect the liver, improve eyesight and nourish blood. Greengage wine is popular among many Chinese in spring as it helps nourish the liver, promote fluids and establish a bigger appetite and better mood.

Green foods are usually rich in fiber, vitamins and chlorophyll according to modern research, which are all helpful in dispelling toxins from the body.

Green foods: Green beans, spinach, green vegetables, celery, garden chrysanthemum

Spinach: "Cold" spinach can help reinforce the liver, nourish blood and dispel pathogenic heat.

(Shanghai Daily February 10, 2009)

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