Chill out with summertime fruits, but don't chill them
Watermelon is one of the most recommended fruits in summer as it can help dispel pathogenic heat.
Still, it's best not to eat fruits directly from the fridge, since the cold temperature can be upsetting.
Fruits, like all foods, are classified as "cold/cool," "neutral" and "warm/hot" according to their yin (cold) or yang (hot) energy.
In the West, there's a food "pyramid" for a balanced diet; in China there's a "balanced diet pagoda." It suggests that adults eat 100-200 grams of fruits and 400-500 grams of vegetables every day; those who eat fewer vegetables should add fruits.
"Cold/cool" fruits include apples, pears, oranges, bananas, persimmons, watermelons and kiwi fruits; "hot/warm" fruits include peaches, longans, litchi, and cherries; "neutral" fruits include pineapple, grapes, hawthorn and plums.
According to the balance of energy theory in TCM, "cold" fruits are usually recommended for the "hot" people, "Warm" fruits are recommended for "cold" people while "neutral" fruits are suitable for everyone.
Most people are "neutral" in energy. "Hot" people usually have a red tongue, get hot and thirsty easily and tend to get constipated. "Cold" people usually have a pale tongue, cold extremities, are often cold and suffer from diarrhea.
But in hot summers, "cold" (yin) energy fruits are usually better than "warm" (yang) energy fruits, according to Dr Xia Xiang, vice president of Shanghai Dietary Therapy Institute.
People in subtropical area, including Shanghai, often have headaches and feel irritable in summer.
Everyone is thirsty, of course. That's mainly caused by strong pathogenic heat and dampness dominating the universe and invading human bodies.
"Yang energy grows fast in human body along and in the universe in summer," says Xia. "That's why we need more 'cold' foods, including fruits, to rebalance the energy inside."
Those who have poor digestion and tend to have diarrhea, however, should avoid "cool/cold" fruits and those that are very sour.
Everyone, including ordinary healthy people, should avoid chilled fruits, though they taste better than room-temperature fruit.
Some fruits should not be eaten on an empty stomach, including tomatoes, bananas, oranges, hawthorn and persimmon.
They contain tannin and organic acids that may irritate gastric mucosa and cause bloating.
Don't overdo it. Eating too much sour fruits may damage tooth enamel and irritate stomach lining. Too much sweet fruit adds calories and too much juicy fruit, especially melons, may dilute gastric acid and cause indigestion.