Meat – A Blood-Building Food

Photo by Vivian Arcidiacono on Unsplash

Most meat is yang in action. It is blood building. It builds muscle but also heats you. Hot foods warm and energise you but they can unbalance your system. Meat’s action is mainly upwards and outwards.

You realise this after a while of eating a lot of meat when you

  • start getting rashes
  • find your skin gets drier
  • you get sore throats more often
  • tend to be more irritable than before
  • notice cold less
  • get either constipated or
  • get urgent, smelly diarrhoea
  • receive complaints that your breath smells and
  • that you smell too: you’ve become aromatic! (And it won’t be a compliment.)


Different meats have different qualities, according to Chinese medicine:

Very yang and heating, and very blood-building are

  • lamb
  • venison
  • bison
Bison is one of a number of good blood building foods
Photo by Jonathan Mast on Unsplash
  • lobster
  • shrimps
  • crab


Any animal or bird flesh is somewhat heating, the more so the more of it you eat, and the more often you eat it.

That means that the occasional roast chicken would have little effect unless you had it everyday, several times a day.

  • Chicken is definitely warming, especially with the fats from its skin. But …
  • Don’t take chicken during a fever (why bother, you’ve already got a fever and your body is doing a grand job!) but …
  • Do take it if you’re always cold OR…
  • If during an attack by a bacteria or virus your body doesn’t seem able to mount an effective fever. See our page Cope with Fever for more on this.
  • Chicken soup, made with long-cooked stock and vegetables is an excellent food for most convalescents.


Animal bones if gently boiled with vegetables for long periods produce excellent stock. This is a safe food that really helps people who are yang deficient.


Other non-meat foods that are heating or very heating: eat less of these!

  • chilli pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • garlic
  • onions
  • coffee
  • chocolate
  • fried food including fried meat
  • nightshade family including potatoes, tomatoes, bell-peppers capsicum, egg-plant
  • alcohol (althogh a very little red wine used in cooking can make meat tenderer)

How you cook meat makes a huge difference to its action

  • roasting and frying both increase its heating power
  • steaming is the least heating

Some fruits that aid digestion of meat or protein

These fruits have traditionally been added to some meat dishes to tenderise and moisturis the meat, but also to improve the taste. Traditional cooking from ancient cultures have for long appreciated the benefits of combining different kinds of foods.

  • Apples (eg with pork)
  • Apricots (Middle Eastern and North African traditional recipes; often in their beef recipes)
  • Cranberries (The sauce is often served with turkey)
  • Figs (eg with veal)
  • Hawthorn berries
  • Olives
  • Prunes (eg with pork, turkey and rabbit)


Spices that help you digest meat are often made from seeds

  • caraway
  • cardamom
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • fennel
  • star anise

Traditional cooking has other advice

  • Very fatty meat? Combine with sour food such as sauerkraut
  • Too much blood building meat at one meal should be balanced by blood clearing foods at the next: the same applies to too much dairy food or too many eggs

Take Blood Clearing  and Bitter foods to balance Blood Building foods

To balance the yang actions of meat, you should take blood clearing foods. Check the link!

Also, bitter taste foods help remove the excess heat that arises from eating too much meat.


What about Cold Foods?

Perhaps you think that if Meat is a Hot food, then why not just concentrate on Cold foods to balance the meat’s heat?

In principal this is good thinking, but in practice it’s harder to do because it’s difficult to get it right. It’s usually better to be more specific about the food you combine with meat.

Also, remember that you don’t have to get everything right at every meal. Although that would be ideal, you can often balance one meal which may be – say – too heating, with the next meal being more cooling.


Finding balance in life, yin and yang
Balancing yin and yang

That’s why we have a page on blood clearing foods.

Jonathan Brand colours

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