6 'heaty' foods that can cause fevers and sore throats

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According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), each and every type of food can be classified as heaty, cooling or neutral. Heaty foods warm up the body while cooling foods cool it down, and overconsumption of any particular category of foods can lead to a whole host of problems.

In TCM, too much heaty foods can result in rashes, sore throats, and fevers. Not sure what foods are considered heaty? Here are six common ones.

Spicy dishes

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This one may seem obvious, but spices and herbs present in spicy dishes not only trigger your tastebuds, they have the capacity to make your body retain that heat long after you’ve finished your meal.

If you’re a spice evangelist who simply can’t go a day without that kick of spicy food, try reducing the amount that you consume. After all, that salsa on the side of your burrito bowl is less likely to leave you sweating buckets compared to a big bowl of chicken curry.


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Bad news for nut lovers; many nut types such as almonds, cashews, and pistachios are known to cause heat build-up in our bodies. But that doesn’t mean you’ve got to skip your daily trail mix or granola bowl!

As with most foods, moderation is key. Try to reduce your regular intake of nuts, or snack on ‘cooler’ alternatives such as aloe vera or grass jelly.

Red meat

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Red meat such as beef and mutton brings a plethora of health benefits to the table – being rich in iron, zinc, and vitamins, but consuming them causes your body to generate more heat. While that might make them ideal choices of protein in colder regions, for Singaporeans, we would be better off replacing red meat for a side of chicken or fish.

Heaty drinks 

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Contrary to popular belief, some icy-cool drinks only give momentary relief to your body thanks to its cold temperature. What really helps your body cool down or heat up depends on the ingredients that make up the drink.

For example, a glass of iced milo or kopi peng would not be the ideal cooling drink, as the chocolate malt and coffee beans they are derived from have a heaty nature. Good alternatives to them would include cooling herbal teas, tomato juice, and water chestnut or sugar cane drinks.

Deep-fried foods 

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Have you ever developed a sore throat or mouth ulcers the day after bingeing on one too many fried chicken wings or french fries? The heaty nature of such deep-fried, crispy foods may have played a large part in causing that.

In such hot weather, it would be smart (and healthier!) choice to go for steamed or baked dishes instead.

Certain types of fruits 

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Not all fruits are created equal. While eating most fruits help us achieve a balanced diet and provide our bodies with much-needed nutrients and vitamins, there are some fruits that should be consumed in smaller portions.

Some examples of heaty fruits are durians, jackfruits, mangoes, and apricots. Try munching on ‘cool’ fruits such as watermelon, mangosteens, and strawberries instead to beat the heat!

This article was first published in The Singapore Women's Weekly.