Your Chinese Medicine guide to Fruits

Updated: Feb 4


Did you know Traditional Chinese Medicine classified fruits the same way as Chinese herbs?

As you know, fruits are one of the best sources for vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. These are vital for good health, for example:

  • Vitamin A: Boost immunity, improve skin integrity, improve eyesight

  • Vitamin C: Boost immunity, lower blood cholesterol

  • Vitamin E: Improve blood circulation, lower blood cholesterol

  • Calcium: Strengthen integrity of teeth and bones, improve insomnia

  • Iron: Boost red blood cell production

  • Zinc: Helps in wound healing, lower cholesterol

  • Potassium: Lower blood pressure, improve red blood cell capability to transport oxygen

While fruits are good for your health in general, do you know which fruits are good for you? In Traditional Chinese Medicine, fruits are classified the same way as Chinese herbs – according to their properties. The two main classification systems are the “four natures” and “five flavours”.


Four natures (四气)


In Traditional Chinese Medicine, with neutral being a benchmark ‘nature’ (qi or heating/cooling property), there are four broad levels of other ‘natures’ on both sides of the heating/cooling spectrum – cold, cool, neutral, warm and hot. This ‘nature’ is not determined by the fruits’ physical temperature, but by the fruits’ effect on a person's body after consumption. If a person excessively consumes fruits belonging to just one ‘nature’, there might eventually be an imbalance in the body, and the person might fall ill.


Fruits that belong to the warm and hot spectrum tend to add ‘heat’ to your body (durians, lychee etc) whereas fruits that belong to the cold and cool spectrum ‘cools’ your body down (watermelon, orange etc). Neutral fruits do not tend to cause any imbalance. Therefore, if one eats too much fruit with warm or hot nature, one tends to develop sore throat, have hot flushes or even constipation. And if one eats too much fruit with cold and cool nature, one will tend to develop stomach aches, muscle aches, leg cramps etc.


In general:

  • Cold, cool: Good for people with excess heat, such as sore throat, cough. People with cold spleen and stomach, weak qi, menstrual cramps should avoid.

  • Neutral: Good for all

  • Warm, hot: Good for people who feel cold all the time, weak or cold spleen and stomach. People with excess heat, such as sore throat, fever and cough should avoid.

Five flavours (五味)


What is food without any flavours? Traditional Chinese medicine also categorise fruits according to their flavours, mainly: Sour, Bitter, Sweet, Spicy, Salty. Similar to the four natures, different flavours have a different effect on the body and each flavour is associated with an organ.

Five element relationship
  • Sour – Liver – stops sweating, eases cough, eases incontinence

  • Bitter – Heart – removes excess heat and dampness, helps in constipation

  • Sweet – Spleen – nourishes the body, reduces acute pain

  • Spicy – Lungs – improves qi and blood circulation, removes cold

  • Salt – Kidneys – improves bowel movement, softens masses



So, to cut to the chase, do read the list below to find out which fruits would be the most beneficial to you!

Complied by yourTCM

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