YinYangFoodsOur beloved Michio Kushi, a leader and a pioneer in the macrobiotic community, offers today’s inspiration. All these, and more precious information, can be found in his book “Macrobiotic Diet”, edited by Alex Jack.


Food is the mode of evolution, the way one species transforms into another. To eat is to take in the whole environment: sunlight, soil, water and air. The classification of foods into categories of yin and yang is essential for the development of a balanced diet. Different factors in the growth and structure of foods indicate whether the food is predominantly yin or yang.


  • Growth in a hot climate
  • More rapid growth
  • Foods containing more water
  • Fruits and leaves, which are more nurtured by expanding energies
  • Growth upward high above the ground
  • Sour, bitter, sharply sweet, hot and aromatic foods


  • Growth in a cold climate
  • Slower growth
  • Dries foods
  • Stems, roots and seeds, which are the more nurtured by contracting energies
  • Growth downward below ground
  • Salty, plainly sweet, and pungent foods

In the beginning, the simplest division is made among foods that are excessively yang and excessively yin and should be avoided or reduced whenever possible and between foods of more central balance that are suitable for regular consumption.

These categories are summarized below. Note that in the strong yang column, items are categorized from most contractive (refined salt and eggs) to least contractive (fish and seafood), which are thus more suitable for occasional consumption if desired. In the strong yin column, items are listed from least expansive (white rice and white flour) to most expansive (drugs and many medications), so that when traveling or eating out we occasionally find ourselves in a position of selecting polished grains as the least objectionable of the highly processed foodstuff available.

Foods in the center column are generally listed from those of most central balance (whole cereal grains, beans, vegetables, and seaweeds) that are eaten regularly to those of lesser balance (fruits and natural sweeteners) that eaten only occasionally and in moderate volume.

Strong Yang Foods

  • Refined salt
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Cheese
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Fish

More balanced foods

  • Whole cereal grains
  • Beans and bean Products
  • Root, round, and leafy green vegetables
  • Sea vegetables
  • Unrefined sea salt, vegetable oil, and other seasonings (if moderately used)
  • Spring and well water
  • Nonaromatic, nonstimulant teas and beverages
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Temperate climate fruit
  • Rice syrup, barley malt, and other grain based natural sweeteners

Strong Yin foods

  • White rice, white flour
  • Frozen and canned food
  • Tropical fruits and vegetables
  • Milk, cream, yogurt and ice cream
  • Refined oils
  • Spices (pepper, curry, nutmeg, etc.)
  • Aromatic and stimulant beverages (coffee, black tea, mint tea, etc.)
  • Honey, sugar and refined sweeteners
  • Alcohol
  • Foods containing chemicals, preservatives, dyes, pesticides,
  • Drugs (marijuana, cocaine, etc. with some exceptions)
  • Medications (tranquilizers, antibiotics, etc. with some exceptions)

Since we need to maintain a continually dynamic balance and harmony between yin and yang in order to adapt to our immediate environment, when we eat foods from one extreme, we are naturally attracted to the other. For example, a diet consisting of large quantities of meats, eggs and other animal foods, which are very yang, requires a correspondingly large intake of foods in the extreme yin category such as tropical fruits, sugar alcohol, spices, and in some cases, drugs and medications. However, a diet based on such extremes is very difficult to balance, and often results in sickness, which is nothing but imbalance caused by excess of one of the two factors, or both.

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