Food considered "warm" in Oriental medicine can be a blessing during the cold winter temperatures. "Eating warm-natured foods improves blood circulation and metabolism," said Lee Mi-young, a professor of the department of food and nutrition at Jangan University. "It also helps prevent diseases as immunity increases."
◆ Spicy Food
Most spicy food is warm in nature, said Lee Jin-moo at Kyunghee University Hospital. Notable warm foodstuffs are spring onion, ginger and garlic.
They boost circulation as they dilate blood vessels and increase the blood volume. Good circulation keeps bodies warm. "Foods like cucumbers or watermelons, which are watery and feel cool when being eaten, constrict blood vessels," said Lee. "When people whose bodies are cold eat these kinds of foods in winter, their bodies tend to become colder because the blood vessels constrict."
Besides spicy vegetables, radish, burdock and pumpkin also help warm the body.
◆ Warming Food Recipes
Radish Soup: Radish stimulates digestion, thus improving the flow of energy and blood circulation. It is better eaten cooked, with spring onion, chives and garlic and seasoned with salt or soy source.
Burdock cooked in soy sauce: Boiled burdock can warm the body and is a good side dish in winter. Boil it in with soy sauce, starch syrup and cooking wine, and add spring onion, minced garlic and green peppers.
Pumpkin porridge: Pumpkin is not a warm-natured vegetable, but when cooked with glutinous rice can boost metabolism.