How do you classify chocolate and coffee to be
"extremely cooling" when they produce
so much heat in the body?
I realize in macrobiotics yin to the extreme would
become yang but I thought that cooling foods produce
Such as eating raw foods cool the body or tofu....
Please explain. Thanks. Susan
following comments on Coffee and Chocolate are
based solely on what the two have in common in
terms of cooling properties and the fact that
they play such important roles in most diets.
What has not been taken into consideration, on
purpose, is the fact that each of these two foods
has its own unique energetic and nutritional qualities
that go far beyond the cooling natures that both
of them share.
Let us look at this question
of coffee and chocolate being cooling foods from
two different perspectives, a physiological perspective
followed by an energetic perspective. Before doing
so, we must understand that the degree with which
a cooling food cools the body is dependent on
both the level of physical activity that body
engages in and how much of two warming macronutrients
(fat and protein) are consumed by that body.
Fat and protein are the
most highly thermogenic foods we can eat. To put
that simply, fat and protein increase metabolism
and an important effect of increased metabolism
is warmth on a muscle, tissue, organ, and cellular
level. Therefore, healthy proportions of protein
and fat in ones diet act as buffers to the cooling
effects of low thermogenic foods, or less nutrient
dense foods (many vegetables, fruits...) and play
an important role in balancing any healthy diet.
A balanced healthy diet is guaranteed to provide
both sensory and nutritional satisfaction. Beyond
those basics, there are many additional benefits
you can expect from eating a balanced diet and
you can learn more by attending classes, reading
books, choosing and preparing healthy foods and
sharing your knowledge with others.
Coffee and chocolate both
contain stimulants, coffee in the form of caffeine
and strong alkaloids, and chocolate in the forms
of theobromine and phenethylamine and probably
other yet undiscovered chemical stimulants. These
chemicals have been shown to have the same effects
and addictive qualities as amphetamines.
These naturally occurring
chemicals stimulate the sympathetic branch of
the autonomous nervous system. The sympathetic
branch acts on blood distribution by increasing
its flow from its regulated cycle of circulation
in the body to the periphery of the body, hands,
feet, and surface of the body in general. This
process of moving blood to the periphery of the
body can also occur when one is physically active,
running, aerobic activity, or any kind of active
movement. When active exercise triggers the sympathetic
branch of the nervous system, there is an increase
in respiration, heartbeat, body temperature, and
These reactions result in,
among other things, dehydration, caloric output,
and the need to replenish food and water.
After exercising, the
body begins to cool down and it is through the
replenishing of food and water that the body regains
its warmth and hydration. If the body is not recharged
after physical exertion and refueled through food
and water, it would eventually cool down to the
point of depletion.
Exercise offers an obvious
example of how the body regulates its functions
from warm to cool and back again but the effect
of coffee and chocolate are not as obvious. Both
contain stimulants that trigger the sympathetic
branch of the nervous system causing blood to
flow outward from the center of the body. One
then experiences an initial output of warmth as
the result of a host of increased physiological
functions - the stimulants in coffee and chocolate,
although to different degrees, have specific cooling
effects on some organs.
Coffee and chocolate can
stimulate heartbeat, increase respiratory function,
and increase blood circulation along with other
effects that occur during exercise as well. However,
these stimulants have other effects beyond those
shared with exercise. It begins with the pituitary
gland thinking there is an emergency. It releases
hormones that cause the adrenals to produce adrenalin.
This leads to rapid heartbeat, elevated blood
pressure, and a slowing of blood to the digestive
The stimulation of adrenals,
kidneys, and bladder functions increase urination.
Unlike exercise where perspiration is increased
through exertion, the chemicals in coffee and
chocolate do not increase perspiration as much
as they increase urination because they are diuretics.
With the increase of urination from these diuretics,
one begins a process of dehydration.
Interestingly, the neurological messages of thirst
and hunger are indistinguishable from each other
by the human nervous system and often one has
to make a conscious effort to understand which
is calling. An interesting point when you think
about it because for most people hunger is the
prevailing message and the one acted on when a
glass of pure water is often what is needed first.
from increased urination cools the body temperature
and a lack of regulated blood flow to the intestines
reduces the warmth needed for proper digestion.
If it gets to the extreme, physiological symptoms
of dry skin, dark urine, cold hands and feet,
decreased circulation in general, reduction in
cellular function, cellular flexibility and reduced
function of kidneys and adrenals
all of which
contribute to physical coldness.
After consuming coffee
or chocolate, most people will recharge their
cells and tissue with nutrition in some form.
Yet for those who choose less thermogenic foods
or diets low in fat and protein - they are going
to have a more difficult time maintaining bodily
warmth than those who consume moderate amounts
of fat and protein when consuming coffee and chocolate
on a regular basis.
Additionally, the cooling
effects of coffee and chocolate can be understood
by the way they affect the liver. The stored glycogen
(sugar) molecules in the liver are rapidly released
when coffee and chocolate are consumed, again
due to their stimulating natures.
These stored glycogen molecules are initially
stored in the liver to supply a steady source
of fuel, energy and warmth to the body and when
released in abundance as a reaction to stimulating
chemicals, creates an initial feeling of warmth
through sheer caloric out put but is short lived
as the liver now must rebuild its storage base
of glycogen. This too results in a cooling effect
on the body and it can further result in strong
cravings for sugar due to the livers now depleted
reserves of glycogen.
Today many people consume
their chocolate and coffee with sugar and milk
unlike traditional peoples. While milk does buffer
some of the cooling and drying effects of these
foods and the sugar may help to restore glycogen
to the liver many believe these combinations
to be unhealthy for various reasons.
then, both coffee and chocolate through their
chemical constituents tend to cool the body by
over stimulating various physiological functions
that result in an initial warmth with an after
effect of cooling and decreased circulation due
to loss of water, loss of caloric fuel (glycogen),
and the diluting effects they have on protein
Both coffee and chocolate
are derived from plants that are highly sensitive
to cold temperatures. Both are small seeds with
an intense bitter taste. Coffee beans (fruits,
berries) are from a bush/small tree while cacao
beans are the seeds of the cacao pod that grows
on trees. Both are roasted before being consumed
which increases their already bitter taste.
Coffee beans are roasted
and dried. Cacao seeds are left to ferment for
four or more days in the sun then sun dried and
roasted at a low temperature. After roasting,
both coffee and cacao seeds/beans are ground and
consumed in several ways.
The bitter taste has the
effect on the body of drying and purging and it
resonates or enters the heart and small intestine.
This includes all bitter foods and does not mean
that the bitter taste is good for these organs.
It simply means that bitter enters these organs.
For example, dandelion and burdock roots have
long been traditional remedies for numerous ills.
Both have bitter tastes and therefore enter the
heart and small intestine via the meridian channels.
Coffee and chocolate too,
have a bitter taste and will enter the same organs
but will have a stimulating effect on those organs.
The non-stimulating bitter taste of dandelion
or burdock, neither of which are of tropical origin
nor sensitive to cold temperatures, have a tonifying
effect on the heart and small intestine.
Being energetically sensitive
to cold temperatures (coffee and cacao cannot
be grown where there is frost) coffee and chocolate
impart in the consumer similar qualities and when
consumed in excess demand a balance to their cooling
effects in the form of warming nutrient dense
foods. The bitter taste with its dehydrating and
purging properties not only contributes to drying
of body cells and tissue: the purging effect of
these bitter stimulants can deplete the stored
bodily warmth derived from warming fats and proteins
and when depleted will compel strong cravings
It is interesting to note
that traditional cultures had a variety of bitter
foods in their diets, unlike modern industrialized
cultures. Various herbs for cooking, bitter tasting
green vegetables, roasted foods, grilled foods,
toasted foods (seeds, nuts, crackers, toast
and smoked foods all contributed to the bitter
taste in traditional diets.
Aside from the stimulating
effects that make coffee and chocolate so widely
popular perhaps the lack of a variety of traditionally
consumed bitter tasting foods in our modern diets
also plays an important role in the high consumption
of these two most interesting foods.
second part of this question,
do raw foods and tofu cool the body?
Let us begin by making
it clear that not all raw foods are cooling. As
mentioned before, nutrient dense foods, those
higher in fat and protein tend to be warming foods,
as do some starchy foods. Raw food diets generally
contain an ample amount of nuts and seeds in their
preparations. Olive and coconut oils are also
used on a regular basis.
These foods can have thermogenic properties and
thus are warming compared to fruits and leafy
vegetables. It is also important to note that
the addition of cooling foods in ones diet is
just as important as warming foods. A balanced
diet contains a wide variety of both cooling and
warming foods all year round.
Each food has a temperament
that it is grown or raised with. This temperament
is a foods identity, what it is, and has
the potential to effect the human body with that
identity. Food temperaments are comprised of four
basic temperatures, hot, cold, cool, and warm.
These four are then paired with one of two degrees
of moisture, dry and moist (damp).
Generally, those foods
that fall into the category of cold/cool are foods
of plant origin that are high in water (juice),
grown in water, high in vitamins and anti-oxidants,
high in simple sugars, grow in tropical or semi-tropical
climates, are fermented, and are lower in fat
Generally, those foods
that fall into the category of hot/warm are foods
of plant and animal origin that are lower in water
content, grow in temperate climates, are high
in fat and protein or high in starches like some
root vegetables, beans and some grains.
I say generally
because once you add that stamp of dry or moist
to the warm or cool food it is more specifically
defined in temperament.
Temperaments are easy
to observe in people. A heavy set man, overweight
by 70 or 100 lbs., perspiring profusely, with
a red face and irritable and angry disposition
is obviously carrying a general temperament of
hot and moist. A skinny man with sunken cheekbones,
dry hands and feet, pale complexion, poor posture
obviously carrying a temperament of cold and dry.
These temperaments are not unlike those of foods
and like foods, they can be changed. Our temperaments
change through our life choices and food temperaments
can be changed through preparation methods (steaming,
boiling, roasting, marinating
Using the two examples
of men in the previous paragraph, let us now put
them on one of two diets in order to determine
the cooling or warming natures of foods on the
human body. Diet 1. Fresh raw fruits, raw vegetables,
raw nuts, and seeds. Diet 2. Cooked animal products,
moderate amounts of fats and oils, some vegetables,
If all we wanted to do
was cool down the heavy set man from the first
example it would not take very long with Diet
no. 1 but it might take some time with Diet 2.
Likewise, in order to warm up the skinny cold
man we would obviously suggest Diet 2. While these
examples do not describe exactly how raw foods
cool it does reveal that the principle foods of
some raw food diets have the potential to break
down excess, reduce fat, and thus cool the body.
All is relative of course
but here is another simple example. Conventional
ice cream and soy milk ice cream. I think we can
all agree that these are cooling, cold foods.
However, which one is more cooling with longer
lasting effects? The soy based frozen dessert
is more cooling because it does not contain the
thermogenic qualities inherent in animal milk.
The temptation to expose this soy based fraudulent
food is powerful but let us ignore it for now.
Getting to know the temperaments
of foods is one way to begin understanding the
warming and cooling properties of foods.
up and Breaking down
Another way to understand
the cooling or warming energetics of foods is
through their effects in the human body. The human
body builds mass from warming foods that tend
to be protein and fat based and there is no doubt
the Western world has consumed these in excess
but a simple fact is that muscle, tissue, organs
and cells are built by proteins and fats.
High fiber raw fruits and green vegetables are
lower in these two components yet high in vitamins,
minerals, and other important nutrients. These
cooling foods are break down foods in the sense
that they have the ability to reduce excess fat
and protein in the body through high enzyme activity,
especially when eaten raw. When fat and protein
reserves are diminished the body cools, blood
pressure drops, and numerous other changes occur.
One could argue that fruits
and vegetables are building foods for apes and
monkeys but if you think about an ape and its
eating patterns you will find that it eats massive
quantities of plant foods at one sitting and a
cow grazes all day long. Furthermore, we human
omnivores are neither apes nor cows so the argument
is not even worth debating. Further, most herbivores
get their daily share of animal foods in the form
of insects for grazing animals and insects and
small rodents for monkeys and apes.
Witness the powerful effect
of papaya on meat. A single slice of papaya placed
on a piece of meat will immediately begin digesting,
breaking down the meat. Fruits are high in enzymes
and one of the primary roles of food enzymes is
to break down concentrated nutrient dense foods
in the human body.
A diet high in breakdown foods (raw fruits, vegetables
and seeds and nuts) can be beneficial for those
wanting to cleanse the body of excess heat and
lose weight. It may not be the best approach for
everyone but it is an option that does get results.
However, like a strict macrobiotic diet and vegan
diets it too leads to the physiological reactions
ranging from being hungry all the time to intense
cravings for fats and proteins.
In summary then, cooling
break down foods are mostly plant foods that contain
high levels of enzymes, high fiber content, high
simple sugar content, high chlorophyll content
(green foods), and fermented foods.
facilitates the break down of plant fibers and
alters the cellular structure of plant cells.
This form of decomposition also has a cooling
effect on the body. Fermented foods are essential
in any healthy diet because they assist in the
break down and absorption of warming fats and
What about that tofu?
Is it cooling? Hold it in your hand, feel it,
squeeze it, bite it. The temperament of tofu is
cold and moist. Okay, now slice the tofu and fry
it. Add it to a hearty stew of root vegetables
and fish, seasoned with miso. Now what is the
temperament of that tofu?
How about that papaya?
Temperament, cold and moist. Dry that papaya and
its new temperament is cool and dry. A foods temperament
can be altered by what is done to the food and
by what other foods are combined with it. There
is no one correct way to eat foods.
By that, I mean 100% raw is not the way to go
nor is 100% cooked the way to go. Both are essential
for a healthy human diet. Should we eat a carrot
raw simply because it has more enzymes that way
and were it cooked those enzymes would be destroyed?
Carrots are also high in carotenoids, beta-carotene,
which is a fat-soluble vitamin.
frees the carotenoids for absorption and offers
another way of getting benefits from carrots you
would not get if you ate them raw all the time.
Both are great ways to eat carrots depending on
what you are preparing and what kind of energetics
you are looking for.
Digestion and absorption
are part of an organized process that requires
warmth. Your digestive fire is activated and sustained
by fats and proteins and the regulation of your
metabolic fire is dependent on these two macronutrients
as well. They are the foods that keep the digestive
This does not mean one should eat excessive quantities
of these foods but to maintain healthy digestive
fire one should consume these warming and building
foods in small quantities to offset the cooling
break down effects of a high plant based diet.
Other ways you can learn
to understand the warming and cooling natures
of foods are to think about how a food grows and
the environment where it is grown; near water
or in water, on fertile land or dry land, in a
forest, high or low sun exposure
? How was
it was eaten by traditional people and why?
These and other important
qualities of food are all influences on the human
body and mind. Some are subtle while others are
obvious. Many of these unique qualities of foods,
which were clearly understood by our ancestors
through energetic science, are often taken for
granted or given little thought by us. Meanwhile,
more and more of these energetic qualities are
being rediscovered and confirmed through modern
science. One of the latest fields of food research
has to do with plant communication.
Oh yes, food does communicate
with us. Listen, observe, taste, and learn.