Why You Should Add Chili to Your Diet, Especially When You’re Cold

Tomato, cilantro, garlic, onion, and lemon in the background with red chili peppers in the foreground sitting on a cutting board scattered with peppercorns.

In traditional Chinese medicine, chili has its merits. (Image: Rsooll via Dramstime)

In traditional Chinese medicine, chili has its merits. It is a yang (or hot) food, which when eaten will make you more energetic, warmer, and speed up your metabolism.

Eat chili in cold climates, or if you have a cold body-type

To combat yin (or cold) conditions, chili is a great medicinal food to eat — especially in cold and wet climates, as the characteristic is heating and drying. If you have cold feet and hands, it will give your circulation a kick-along to move your energy around.

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It is a pungent food and it corresponds to the lungs, so it will clear out stagnant phlegm in this area, making this a great home medicine for coughs and colds.

Beautiful red hot chili peppers growing in a pot.
To combat yin (or cold) conditions, chili is a great medicinal food to eat — especially in cold and wet climates, as the characteristic is heating and drying. (Image: Alisali via Dreamstime)

Learning from the Sichuan people

To balance the relentless cold and damp conditions of Sichuan, the Chinese include a lot of spices and chili in their dishes. When visiting Sichuan, tourists comment on how much they love the spicy food, and how it kept them warm and energized on the inside.

Upon returning home to a warmer, dryer climate, however, continuing this spicy diet was not effective. As the environment had changed, it proved to be too much yang in the diet, causing dryness in the throat, eyes, and nose.

This story is a reminder that traditional Chinese medicine always promotes the principle of balance. Although a great winter food, some can benefit from eating chili year-round.

This spicy potato Sichun dish would keep you warm on the inside, despite the cold weather (Image: avlxyz via Flickr)

Cook Chinese style

Chili makes your food come to life and enlivens your palette. Try making Malaysian Kampung fried rice, Chinese hot and spicy tofu, and Shenyang-style potatoes.

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