Choosing right fruits for winter
Teaditional Chinese medicine warns against eating too much yin (cold energy) fruit and vegetables in winter lest they aggravate "pathogenic cold," so many people cut back on fruits and vegetables in the cold season.
But TCM doctors encourage people to keep eating fresh fruits and vegetables because they contain necessary vitamins, minerals and fiber. Markets are filled with great variety throughout the year. Experts encourage people to eat local, in-season fruits and vegetables and say some fruits and vegetables are better than others in cold weather.
Some fruits can be warmed up slightly, though not cooked, to make them healthier, TCM experts say.
Many Chinese people are bothered by vitamin deficiency in winter, manifested in mouth ulcers, bleeding gums, constipation, fatigue, memory problems and changeable mood, says Dr Han Ting of the Nutrition Department of Shanghai No. 10 People's Hospital.
He encourages people to eat fruits that are both sweet and sour, saying they usually contain more of the vitamins required in this season.
But blindly eating fruit regardless of their yin and yang (warm energy) characteristics may aggravate energy imbalances in the body during any season, says health writer Chen Yunbin, author of the best-selling "The Wisdom of Eating at Home."
At this time of year, "pathogenic cold energy" prevails in the universe and the body is vulnerable, Chen says. Thus, it's not advised to each too much yin fruits such as watermelon, kiwi and sugar cane.
Fruits like kiwi are very nutritious and provide a lot of vitamins, but it's best not to eat more than one kiwi a day lest they cause diarrhea, says Chen.
Many people don't like eating cold fresh fruit in cold weather and those with a weak digestive system should avoid cold-energy foods.
Soaking fruit in warm water for a while can relieve the problem. Heating too much destroys nutrition, but warming is all right. Cooked bananas are healthy, says Chen.
Kiwi and baked banana soup is recommended in the season. Though heated, kiwis still detoxify, protect the liver, dispel "pathogenic heat and damp" in the organs, and provide vitamins and micro-elements.
Warming bananas shifts its yin characteristics into mildly yang, more suitable for the season.
Fresh banana is a laxative while cooked banana helps nourish and benefit the stomach, which is needed by people with "cold" constitutions, says Chen.
Heating for three minutes at a high temperature in a microwave is enough to convert the yin to yang energy. Baked banana peal can also be eaten since it helps to reduce "pathogenic fire" in the liver and large intestine, relieve high blood pressure and shrink hemorrhoids, she says.