In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the heart governs one’s mind, sleep, and emotions, and it is interconnected with the kidney which houses one’s spirit and vitality. Heart health is important year-round, but TCM principles teach that we should pay special attention to the heart during hot summer months as our circulatory system works overtime to lower our body temperature – that could easily generate an excess of yang energy and cause a condition called “heart fire.” As a result, one could experience restlessness, mood swings, poor sleep quality and unexplained fatigue – moreover, “heart fire” could weaken the heart’s overall ability to carry out its core functions. To ease “heart fire” during the hot summer months, here are a few food staples we keep in our kitchens:
Winter Melon (AKA Ash Gourd) is a “cooling” fruit that is also high in water content (over 95%!) and therefore provides much needed hydration for the summer. It also contains high levels of potassium and therefore protects your heart from a sodium overload as it works to lessen the latter’s effects on your body. From a TCM perspective, it helps clear excess yang energy from the heart and its natural diuretic properties help provide relief from bloating. It is a popular ingredient in Chinese recipes given its many health benefits – enjoy it steamed, cooked, or with other vegetables in stews or soups.
Bitter Melon (AKA Bitter Gourd) is a “cool”-to-“cold” superfood that helps clear excessive yang energy, and moreover, it’s a revered ingredient for those who suffer from acne, constipation and bad breath. Packed with micronutrients such as vitamins C, B1, B2, folate, calcium, and manganese, it is another popular ingredient in Chinese diets as it provides a long list of health benefits, one of which is that it helps reduce “heart fire.” Moreover, studies have shown that long-term consumption of bitter melon can potentially help with weight loss. Although somewhat bitter in taste, it is surprisingly easy to incorporate into different recipes, from being stir fried to cooked in stews and soups. If possible, you may wish to try combining bitter melon with “warming” foods such as pork ribs, eggs, garlic, ginger or cilantro to balance with its “cold” properties, especially for those suffering from chronic diarrhea.
Seaweed is a “cool”-to-”cold” food that can clear summer heat and mental irritability, and it also functions as a natural sleeping aid and throat soother. Besides its cooling properties, it can also rejuvenate the kidney – which makes it a perfect everyday snack for those who experience hair loss, which is a sign of kidney qi deficiency.
Tomato is a “cold” food that helps one clear heat and flush out toxins from the body. This tasty red-colored fruit can also help replenish heart qi, which could be considerably weakened by the “heart fire” condition. Tomatoes are also packed with lycopene, which is shown to strengthen the blood vessels and promote cardiovascular health.
Once you’ve prepared your heart-healthy meals using the aforementioned ingredients, you may also wish to try the following teas, which could offset “heart fire” symptoms:
Mint tea is a “cooling” herb that is perfect for clearing heat from the body in the summer. It helps calm your mind and mood by working to eliminate “heart fire.” It also promotes skin health as it clears the skin from clogged pores and removes toxins from your body. For women, it also works as a decongestant and helps alleviate period pain.
Longan and lily bulb tea
This “heart fire”-reducing tea could provide relief from energy imbalances as it ebbs and flows during the summer months. It helps calm the nerves and spirits – which most can appreciate during a hot summer afternoon.
- Dried longan fruit 10g
- Dried lily bulb 5g
- Dried rose or jasmine flower petals (optional for extra fragrance)
Simmer in 350mL hot water for 5-10 minutes and drain. The ingredients can be re-steeped until the taste turns bland.
Start your summer on the right foot to stay cool. Want to take a step further? Stop by our shop and grab ReNoo Women’s Longevity formula, which is formulated to give your health an all-around boost to get glowing this season.