The relationship between cold-hot nature and nutrient contents of foods


  • C. Liu, PhD, MD, Associate Professor

  • Y. Sun, PhD, Professor, Dean of College of Food Science

  • Y. Li, M(NutrDiet), Formerly Graduate Student

  • W. Yang, BSc, Formerly Student

  • M. Zhang, MSc, Formerly Graduate Student

  • C. Xiong, MSc, Formerly Graduate Student

  • Y. Yang, BSc, Graduate Student

  • Author contributions: C. Liu designed the study and wrote the paper. Data collection was conducted by M. Zhang, C. Xiong and Y. Yang; C. Liu and W. Yang carried out the statistical analysis. Y. Li and Y. Sun contributed to the writing of the manuscript. The work was carried out in the College of Food Science, South China Agricultural University and Key Laboratory of Food Quality and Safety of Guangdong Province.

C. Liu, College of Food Science, South China Agricultural University, 483#, Wu-Shan Avenue, Tian-He District, Guangzhou 510642, China. Email:


Aim:  All foods in Traditional Chinese Medicine are categorised into ‘the four natures’: cold, cool, warm and hot. The purpose of this paper is to examine the association between the nutrient content of these foods and their cold-hot nature category.

Methods:  For the purposes of this study, 284 foods were selected and grouped by their cold-hot nature category. Twenty-six nutrient content values for each food were derived from the China Food Composition database 2002.

Results:  Ten nutrients were found to be associated with the cold-hot nature category of foods. In the multiple logistic regression analysis, five nutrients correlated with the cold-hot natures of foods. Large amounts of fat, carbohydrate and selenium were significantly associated with the hot nature of foods (P < 0.01) while the amount of iron and copper were significantly associated with the cold nature of foods (P < 0.05).

Conclusion:  The results suggest that the nutrient contents of foods may be one of distinguishing factors for the categorisation of cold-hot nature of foods.