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Here’s Why You Should Eat More White Foods

You've been told to "eat the rainbow," but these white foods provide just as many health benefits - if not more - than bright colored fruits and vegetables.

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If you’ve ever heard the phrase “eat the rainbow,” then you know that white foods don’t always make the cut.

However, recent research has shown that white foods are just as nutritious as their bright-colored counterparts.

For example, eating more white-colored foods may decrease your risk of stroke over ten years compared to fruits and vegetables of different colors. 

Additionally, they are a staple in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and can be used to alleviate many syndromes.

Read on to learn the best white foods to add to your diet and how they help support your health.

Health Benefits Of White Foods

All types of naturally white foods are chock full of nutrients. Some of these nutrients are:  

  • Allicin: Demonstrates anti-tumor properties and helps prevent stomach cancer 
  • Anthoxanthin: Helps lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol levels, regulate blood pressure, and the risk of heart conditions 
  • Sulfur: Keeps hair, skin, and nails healthy  

To add to the list, white-colored vegetables are a healthy source of magnesium and potassium. Magnesium plays a key role in your body and is important for disease prevention, while potassium repairs the bones and protects you against hypertension.

If you have a magnesium deficiency, watch out as it may lead to inflammation and contribute to hypertension, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes onset.

In TCM, white-colored foods are beneficial for your health. They nourish your body and affect the Lung system, based on the Five Element Theory. 

“The respiratory system comprises the Lungs and various other organs. To maintain its health, eat white foods. These can strengthen the Lung system and nourish Lung yin, boost yin production, and alleviate symptoms of Dryness.”

Eu Yan Sang Physician Kwek Le Yin

Here are the best white foods to add to your diet:


A bowl of white rice and barley
Try adding barley to white rice to get more white foods in your diet.

There are two types of barley: Holland barley and Chinese barley (yi yi ren). The former is easily available, but the latter has higher medicinal value.

Chinese barley cools your body, gets rid of lower body water retention, and helps with weight loss by eliminating excess Dampness. Drinking barley water can also help ease diarrhea by strengthening your Spleen and digestive system.


Not only is the fruit deliciously sweet, but it’s also a great remedy for a dry cough with little or no phlegm or mouth and throat dryness. Pears (li zi) also benefit your Lung and stomach organ systems by nourishing yin (passive energy) and clearing Heat. 

They can be eaten raw, but if you want to ease a cough, it’s best to boil it in soup

White radish 

Boiling or steaming are two methods that are often used to prepare white radish (bai luo bo). Eating this root vegetable breaks down stagnated food and expels phlegm and Dampness pathogens from the body.

Lotus root 

Lotus root (lian ou) can be eaten raw or cooked, with each form having distinctly unique properties. 

The cooling nature of raw lotus root helps to clear Heat and replenish fluids, alleviating mouth dryness and soothing anger. It can also stop bleeding that results from heatiness, while preventing blood clots.

Cooked lotus root, on the other hand, turns warm in nature, and can tonify blood and qi (vital life force) and stop the runs.

Snow fungus 

Snow fungus and pear soup with red dates and goji berries
Try adding pears and snow fungus to a soup with Chinese dates and goji berries for a delicious dessert.

Cool-natured snow fungus (yin er) can replenish fluids and nourish the Lungs. It clears phlegm and Heat. Owing to these characteristics, it’s suitable for easing a cough or soothing dry and itchy skin.

If you’re suffering from chronic diarrhea or have translucent, watery phlegm, it is likely that you have a Qi or Yang Deficiency or suffer from a cooling cough. Snow fungus should be avoided as its cooling nature can worsen these symptoms.

Water chestnut

Like barley, water chestnuts (ling jiao) promote weight loss by reducing water retention. It’s also a versatile ingredient with many health benefits. It can cool the body, increase urination, and improve digestion. 

Water chestnuts can be eaten raw just like any fruit and are great for Dampness or Heat-related coughs with phlegm. Eating it regularly will also help you maintain a glowing, healthy complexion.

Chinese yam 

Studies show that Chinese yam (shan yao) help fortify the immune system and improve blood circulation within the coronary arteries. These functions can be attributed to the ingredient’s ability to nourish Lung yin and tonify the Spleen.

Both fresh and dried Chinese yam are key ingredients in traditional Chinese soup recipes. In its fresh form, it’s delicious in a stir-fry with vegetables, such as celery, snow peas, and capsicum.

Ginkgo seeds 

Ginkgo seeds (bai guo) are great for relieving a phlegmy cough, and treating excess vaginal discharge, murky urine, frequent urination, and urinary

Try adding them to salads, smoothies, or a vegetable stir-fry.

Lily bulbs 

Three lily bulbs pictured on a white background
Add more lily bulbs to your diet if you have emotional tension or trouble sleeping.

Lily bulbs (bai he) are particularly effective at overcoming Heart Fire, which happens when your body contains too much Heat or energy.

This imbalance stems from multiple factors including emotional tension, sleeping late, and eating too much spicy food. 

By addressing Heart Fire, lily bulbs may help relax your mind, improve insomnia, and help you recover from a dry cough. It also contributes to better Lung health.

Add More White Foods To Your Diet

White foods are healthy, not to mention tasty, but must be avoided if you have a sensitive body constitution and are prone to allergies. Instead, you should eat warming foods to strengthen qi and protect your body against pathogens.

To find out your body constitution and identify herbal ingredients that keep you balanced, speak to a licensed TCM practitioner. 

Have you tried any of these white foods before? Which are your favorites? Tell us in the comments below.

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