See my favorite seasonal finds in my Amazon shop!

Best Foods for Spring

Spring is in the air! Can you feel it? If you’re like me, your sinuses certainly do 😉 I’ve got a list of the best, healthy foods to eat for spring to share with you.

But in order to know which foods are best to eat this season, we have to first understand the function of the liver.

The Importance of the Liver in Spring

The liver in Chinese medicine is responsible for the normal coursing and moving of Qi and blood internally. And, according to Chinese medicine, the most important time to support the liver is in the spring.

We’ll get to how to support the liver through food in just a minute.

You might also be surprised to know that the emotion that is tied to the liver is anger, so it’s especially important to understand two things:

  1. anger is a healthy, normal emotion; and
  2. we must learn how to handle our anger in a healthy way so it doesn’t cause harm to us, both internally and externally.

The element associated with spring is wood. (Stay with me, because this all ties in.)

Wood is flexible, creative, and resourceful. Think about a tree that grows around what’s in its way. We can take from this to be like wood: to let go of frustration and irritation, and make room for the creative, resourceful energy by keeping the wood element in our body happy and balanced.

Signs of Imbalanced Liver Energy

When the liver is overloaded it has trouble doing its job of detoxifying. This means toxins can build up and overflow, leading to blockages in your blood and Qi.

Some symptoms that could indicate an imbalance of liver Qi are anger, irritability, nausea, stiff muscles, and depression.

How To Stay Balanced

In order to stay balanced, first, we remember that a healthy nervous system is not one that is always calm and happy. It’s one that can move through various states easily: the highs, the lows, and all that’s in between.

The trouble comes when we forget this, and we try to block or suppress our emotions. (I’ve got a great example of this that I shared with you here.)  

If we don’t work through anger, and instead continue to push it away, suppress it, or let it spill out on others around us unchecked, it then becomes a pattern that doesn’t serve us well.

You know the one.

It’s the same one we feel when we repeatedly bump up against difficult situations with the friend, the boss, the boyfriend, the spouse… We repeat these patterns until we accept the invitation to heal them.

We become conscious to not block the emotion, but to allow it to surface, to see it with curiosity, to breathe through it, and let it move through us – and eventually, pass. 

So the takeaway here is to be like wood. Wood breathes. Think again about that tree that grows around the obstacle. Process your anger in a healthy way. You’ll feel better, and you’ll support your liver, too.

Speaking of supporting your liver…

Spring Qi Foods

Now that we know how to emotionally support our liver, let’s talk about what foods we can eat that will do the same.

In general, foods that are young, light, and mildly spicy or acrid are excellent for spring and for moving and strengthening your liver Qi.

In terms of quantity, spring is also a time to eat less than you would in the winter months. If you tune into your body, you will feel this natural shift, and then you can simply follow its cues.

Here are some examples of foods to eat during this season:

Green foods: green foods rich in chlorophyll can help accelerate liver rejuvenation. Spirulina (add to smoothies and juices), chlorella (same), parsley, wheat grass, kale, swiss chard, & collards are all excellent. Also Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus.

Bitter leafy greens: Dandelion greens, arugula, radicchio, spinach, and mustard greens are great for liver Qi enhancement. They are high in iron, they nourish the blood, and their bitter properties make them perfect for a gentle cleanse.

Radishes: while pungent, they help invigorate liver Qi and allow energy to move freely through the liver meridian. Add them to your salads for a healthy kick.

Citrus fruits: lemons, limes, and grapefruits keep the liver Qi flowing smoothly. They also help cut fats that may have been stored in the body during the winter months. A fresh squeeze of lemon or lime in your water is not only refreshing on a hot day but it is highly beneficial to your liver.

Additional foods and herbs: onions, new potatoes, scallions, garlic, cilantro, ginger, turmeric, basil, dill, bay leaf, fennel, beets, carrots. It’s also the time to eat plants that are young and have the qualities that are associated with wood, such as sprouts, young greens, and spouted grains (if you tolerate grains).

Grass fed beef and beef liver, fatty fish, eggs, olives and olive oil are all excellent choices to have during spring to enhance your liver Qi.

Drinks: All the same rules apply when it comes to beverages. First, make extra effort to stay hydrated with lots of fresh filtered water. You can add things like herbs, cucumbers, and squeezes of lemon and lime to encourage yourself to drink more. Light teas work well in the spring, and you can even brew them ahead of time and cool them in a pitcher in your refrigerator.

Green juices are also a favorite of mine for the spring and are excellent to support your liver Qi. Wheatgrass, parsley, spinach, celery, and bok choy are all excellent choices for juicing. Here is my favorite juice recipe for spring and liver Qi.

Cooking methods: Cooking methods should also be adjusted for spring. During this season foods should be cooked quickly over high heat, such as in this Brussels sprouts salad recipe. This method of cooking leaves vegetables and herbs not completely cooked. Steaming or light blanching works great as well.

As you can see, I’ve linked some great spring recipes for you in the list above. Here is a fuller list of my favorite spring recipes: Spring Recipes to Support Liver Qi.

Drop me a comment to let me know if you found this information helpful and useful.


Alessandra Macaluso is the author of What a Good Eater! , Lucy the Bee and the Healing Honey, and The Real-Deal Bridal Bible. She’s also a Qigong and Tai Chi instructor, and overall wellness advocate. Her work has been featured in several anthologies which can all be found on her Amazon author page, and she has contributed to The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, TODAY Parents, and many other online publications.

Alessandra is a northerner-turned-southerner, enjoying the south with her children, Penelope and Ciro, and her husband, Greg.

0 0 votes
Recipe Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x