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Keep cool by avoiding ‘heaty’ foods

These heat-generating foods are simply not compatible with Singapore's scorching climate

One simple way to make sure our bodies do not heat up in Singapore's scorching climate is to avoid foods that cause our bodies to generate heat.

In traditional Chinese medicine, these foods are referred to as "heaty" foods, which have the potential to cause undesirable effects such as rashes, fever, constipation and sore throats when excessively consumed.

Here is a list of some items that should be avoided in this tropical heat.

Red meat

Red meat such as beef and mutton bring 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.

Deep-fried foods

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 a smart (and healthier) choice to go for steamed or baked dishes instead.

Spicy dishes

Spices and herbs not only trigger your taste buds, they have the capacity to make your body retain heat long after you are done with your meal.

If you simply cannot go a day without that kick of spicy food, try reducing the amount that you consume.

Certain types of fruits

Some examples of "heaty" fruits are durians, jackfruits, mangoes and apricots. Try "cool" fruits such as watermelon, mangosteens and strawberries to beat the heat.


Many nuts such as almonds, cashews and pistachios are known to cause heat build-up in our bodies. Try to reduce your regular intake of nuts, or have "cooler" snacks such as aloe vera or grass jelly.

Heaty drinks

Contrary to popular belief, some icy-cool drinks give only momentary relief thanks to their cold temperature.

What really helps your body cool down or heat up depends on the ingredients.

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 would include cooling herbal teas, tomato juice, water chestnut or sugar cane drinks.

This article was first published in Shape (