The Macrobiotic Diet

The macrobiotic diet is part of a health and wellness regimen based on Eastern philosophy. It combines certain tenets of Zen Buddhism with a vegetarian diet and supports a balance of yin and yang’s oppositional forces. Foods are paired based on their so-called yin or yang characteristics. Yin foods are thought to be sweet, cold, and passive, while yang foods are salty, hot, and aggressive.

Whole grains make up about 50 percent of the calories consumed and are believed to have the best balance of yin and yang. Raw and cooked vegetables comprise about 30 percent of the diet and include kale, cabbage, collards, pak choy, and broccoli daily, along with mushrooms and celery a few times a week. Bean or vegetable-based soups and broths can make up 5 to 10 percent of daily caloric intake. Additionally, the diet allows small amounts of fish and seafood several times a week, along with a few servings of nuts. The macrobiotic diet prohibits certain foods, such as chocolate, tropical fruits, and animal products, because they are believed to fall on the far end of the yin-yang spectrum, which would make it difficult to achieve a Zen-like balance.

The macrobiotic diet focuses on low in saturated fats and high in fibre, which can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Proponents of this diet also believe that it may protect against cancer. However, many nutritionists and healthcare providers express concerns, particularly if the diet is followed strictly. Extreme macrobiotic eating can be low in protein, low in calories, and pose a risk for starvation. Also, the diet is deficient in essential vitamins and minerals.


  • Low in saturated fats and high in fiber
  • Emphasizes whole foods and de-emphasizes processed foods
  • Rich in phytoestrogens, which may reduce the risk of estrogen-related cancers


  • Not entirely evidence-based
  • Lacks certain vitamins and minerals; supplements are often required.
  • Can result in a deficient caloric intake
  • Lack of energy may result from inadequate protein