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​10 Most Warming Raw Foods

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The raw vegan diet is often lauded for its ability to cool the body during the height of Summer's heat, but, just as there are whole foods that naturally cool the body, there are also those that naturally warm it.

Warming Foods

1. Herbs:

  • Ginger 
  • Garlic 
  • Cloves 
  • Chives 
  • Coriander 
  • Anise 
  • Rosemary 
  • Dill 
  • Fennel 
  • Basil
  • Cinnamon 
  • Cumin

2. Dates and dried fruits 

3. Leeks 

4. Mustard greens 

5. Nut and seeds 

6. Onions and scallions 

7. Peppers 

8. Watercress 

9. Kumquats 

10. Papaya

There are many more warming foods, but these are among the most recognizable and inexpensive. Some may be surprising – leeks, watercress and kumquats, for example – while others are no brainers. Peppers are a well-known warming food, and it's not just the hot variety. Sweet peppers – including bell peppers – are warming, because they all contain capsaicin. Sweet peppers don't contain as much capsaicin as hot peppers, obviously, but they contain it just the same. The bell, cherry, green, paprika and cone varieties are said to contain approximately 25% of the capsaicin found in most hot peppers. But even ginger root contains small amounts of capsaicin.

Capsaicin triggers the body's nervous system to respond as though one is being exposed to heat. The body feels warmer and the hypothalamus, which controls internal temperature, may even send out a signal to activate sweat glands if you consume enough capsaicin. Perhaps this is why, in Nature's infinite wisdom, it is possible to harvest peppers, and many other warming foods, well into the Autumn months.

Mustard greens, just like mustard seeds, stimulate blood flow and improves circulation. This alone creates a warming sensation in the body. Ginger is another plant that significantly boosts circulation and can make one feel warm when nothing else helps. And though I'm sure those minute amounts of capsaicin helps, it is ginger's other constituents that promote better circulation in the body. The most prominent active ingredients in ginger are terpenes and “ginger oil”, which is an oleo-resin; both of these chemicals increase blood circulation and, in high amounts, can make one so warm that they perspire, just like capsaicin.

The other herbs I listed have a similar circulation boosting and warming effect on the body, particularly garlic. Garlic has long been known to be a strong circulatory stimulant that warms the entire body. In fact, eating too much garlic can cause rapid heart beat and hot flushes. Eating garlic raw is important for those who want to use it to warm them during the cold months, as its main constituent –allicin – quickly degrades when exposed to heat. Onions, scallions, chives and leeks also contain allicin, as they all belong to the Allium family.

Most of the other foods, especially nuts, seeds and papaya, also warm the body by increasing one's blood flow and improving circulation, but watercress doesn't just improve circulation it also boosts metabolism and increases energy. Kumquats have been used in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) to not only boost circulation, but clear respiratory ailments. Dried fruits, like dates, raisins and prunes are warming to the body because they are harder to digest. The digestive system must employ greater effort and energy to break dried fruits down, and all that extra labor warms the body.

In addition to these foods being warming on their own, and even more so when combined with each other, one can add them to neutral and cooling foods to make them more thermostatically useful during the cold months. This is especially true of the herbs, which can be added to dishes of all kinds – savory, sweet, and everything in between.

At present, the raw vegan diet is renowned for its ability to cool the body, in the hottest temperatures, but as more people adopt this way of eating and learn to consume the right foods at the right time of the year, I've no doubt that future generations will extol the raw vegan diet's ability to regulate body temperature in any clime. 


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