The 5 Chinese Elements and their Foods

Chinese 5 Elements and the Universe

Chinese medicine identifies five elements or seasons and associates food with them as well. The theory is that if you don’t eat a balance of these five elements, then you will develop cravings.

I have been testing this out on my family to see if we feel satisfied longer and perhaps don’t need so many snacks. Do you know what? There’s something to this theory! My kids are asking for fewer snacks and not craving sugar like they had been which is great because we don’t have any actual sugar in our home – frozen fruit bars and fruit are as close to sugar as you can get here! How great is that, right? If you are interested, check out the examples below. Annemarie Colbin has an excellent cookbook!

To use the chart, select one food from each element for a meal so that the meal is balanced. You will find that you are full more readily and are not hungry so quickly.

Meat: Chicken
Fish: Trout
Seafood: Clams
Vegetables: Carrots, Broccoli
Grains: Wheat
Herbs: Saffron
Legumes: Lentils, peanuts
Seeds: Barley seeds
Sprouts: Alfalfa sprouts
Nuts: Cashew
Dairy: Mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt
Miscellaneous: Lard, vinegars, sour pickles

Meat: Lamb
Poultry: Squab
Seafood: Shrimp
Vegetables: Asparagus, Brussels sprouts
Fruits: Apricot, raspberry
Grain: Amaranth, popcorn
Herbs: Hops
Legumes: Red lentils
Seeds: Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
Nuts: Pistachio
Miscellaneous: Beer, chocolate, wine

Meat: Mutton, rabbit
Poultry: Pheasant, quail
Fish: anchovy, salmon, tuna
Vegetables: Bamboo shoots, parsnips, pumpkin, spinach
Fruits: Sweet apples, bananas, pineapple, raisins
Grains: Millet
Herbs: Licorice, marjoram, vanilla
Legumes: Chickpeas
Seeds: Caraway seeds, pumpkin seeds
Sprouts: Millet sprouts
Nuts: Almond, filbert (hazelnut), pecan
Dairy: Cottage cheese, ice cream, milk, sweet yogurt
Miscellaneous: Carob, honey, maple syrup, sugar

Meat: Beef
Poultry: Turkey
Fish: Cod, flounder, halibut
Vegetables: Cabbage, cauliflower, celery, radishes
Fruits: Peach, pear
Grains & Tubers: Rice and white potatoes
Herbs: Basil, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, thyme
Legumes: Great northern, navy, soybean
Sprouts: Celery sprouts, radish sprouts, rice sprouts
Seeds: Dill seeds
Nuts: Hickory, walnut
Dairy: Cheese, egg whites
Miscellaneous: Mint, mochi, tempeh, tofu

Meat: Ham, pork
Poultry: Duck
Fish: Bluefish, catfish
Seafood: Clams, crab, mussels, oyster, squid
Vegetables: Mushrooms, nori, water chestnuts
Fruits: Blackberries, blueberries, Concord grapes, watermelon
Grains: Buckwheat/kasha
Legumes: Aduki beans, black turtle beans, kidney beans, pinto beans
Sprouts: Buckwheat sprouts
Seeds: Chia seeds, black sesame seeds
Nuts: Chestnuts
Dairy: Caviar, egg yolks
Miscellaneous: Decaf coffee, salty pickles, tamari, tea

Play with this list or contact me for a the comprehensive list.
My email is

Food list thanks to Annemarie Colbin’s lecture, Institute for Integrative Nutrition.


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