Ayurveda offers us a deep understanding of the importance of sattvic foods and how positively they impact our physical body and mental well-being.
The word sattva means the quality of purity, intelligence, love, and peace. Sattvic foods have their origins in the Ayurvedic and yogic literature, and they promote pure eating habits that balance the energy between the body and the mind.
Proper food and nutrition are essential for a healthy mind and body functioning. Unfortunately, our lifestyle has become so fast-paced that we rarely pay attention to what we eat and how we eat.
We have become so used to consuming packed and processed stuff that generally contains lots of preservatives and additives, which adversely affect our health.
To live a healthy and balanced life, we must understand and redefine our relationship with food. No amount of success or wealth can compensate for a healthy body and mind. Our body needs vitamins and other nutrients to function properly.
Your food should be light and digestible and should easily breakdown inside your body. The food that doesn’t breakdown inside our gut rots for a long time and passes toxins into the bloodstream.
Certain foods cause bloating, indigestion, and constipation. However, some other foods are soothing, nourishing, and have a calming effect on our moods.
Sattvic foods are grown naturally and do not contain preservatives, additives, and any other type of life-enhancing chemicals. The word sattva is a guna (means having a positive characteristic in Sanskrit) and is associated with purity.
For this very reason, I have compiled a list of eight Sattvic foods that are healthy for us and help us revitalize our mind and body.
#1 – Homemade Yogurt
Yogurt is made by the bacterial fermentation of milk and is a popular dairy product. Yogurt cultures are fermented with natural sugars found in the milk. This mixture produces lactic acid which causes the proteins inside the milk to curdle up and the result is a thick white liquid as shown below in the image.
Fresh yogurt made at home has a high concentration of beneficial bacteria that helps with digestion and eliminates harmful viruses. Commercial yogurt available in the market is generally packed with sugar and other additives which are not good for the body. Therefore, it is advisable to make yogurt at home.
Also it is import to consume it the very same day because if we refrigerate, the quantity of friendly bacteria reduces and its beneficial properties also reduces.
Yogurt contains gut friendly probiotics which help people with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Many people have reported significant improvements in bloating, just within 2 to 3 weeks of use.
Other than the above, it also helps to boost the immune system and is also high in protein. Approximately, 1 cup of yogurt has 12 to 15 grams of protein, around 400 milligrams of calcium, phosphorous and folic acid.
People who have taken antibiotics (anytime in their life) generally have gut related issues because antibiotics destroys the natural gut flora. In order to improve gut health sattvic diet consisting of fresh yogurt plays a very important role.
Probiotics present in yogurt increases the count of good bacteria in the gut and as a result, people who are suffering from problems such as candida and parasites, get a lot of relief.
#2 – Ghee (Clarified Butter)
Ghee, also known as clarified butter, is made by heating unsalted butter until it clarifies and separates into lactose, fat and milk protein. Heating on a low flame the sugar and protein separates and sinks to the bottom.
It has a long life and can be kept without refrigeration for about 12 months. You can add a teaspoon of Ghee in your tea, rice, or oatmeal. You can even rub it in hands to prevent dryness and skin rashes.
When mixed with honey and turmeric, it can be applied to wounds, blisters, cuts and scars, as it speeds up the healing process.
When mixed with honey and turmeric, it can be applied to wounds, blisters, cuts and scars, as it speeds up the healing process.
According to Ayurveda, Ghee reduces inflammation in the body, lubricates the connective tissues, promote memory, intelligence, and enhances digestion, among other things.
Also, its antioxidant properties boost the immune system. It also helps in digestion by allowing food to be broken down efficiently by stimulating the digestive enzymes.
It has the healing properties of butter without the impurities such as saturated fats and milk solids. In India, ghee is considered very sacred and used in day to day cooking.
However, like any other thing, overuse of ghee can cause blockages in arteries and other complications. Ghee is a healthy fat which our body needs, but only up to a certain limit.
So if you are planning to consume more ghee on a regular basis, you should cut down on fats in your other food preparations, and you will be fine.
#3 – Raw Honey
Honey is longest lasting amongst all sattvic foods. It is easy to digest and has great detoxification properties. But the most important point to note here is that the honey must be raw, organic and free from preservatives. Commercial honey available in the markets is usually not pure, contains sugars and preservatives.
Another point to remember is that just like Ghee, honey should also be consumed in moderation. Excess consumption of honey can be harmful.
Ayurveda promotes intake of honey with cold water. Honey should never be boiled or put in hot water. In fact, any process which involves heating of honey is not favored by Ayurveda.
Honey can be mixed with lemon juice and consumed empty stomach early morning. It regulates the secretion of internal glandular organs and helps with digestion.
It is also used to treat a wide variety of problems such as constipation, insomnia, indigestion, anemia, and even used in the treatment of jaundice where it is mixed with Giloy (an immunity boosting herb) and taken in orally.
Honey has a high antibacterial activity that helps in healing wounds, relieving sore throats, mouth ulcers, sore gums, and much more.
Ayurveda also says that honey is useful in lowering cholesterol and weight loss. The assumption here is that it is taken in moderate quantities. Ayurveda recommends taking not more than 4 to 5 teaspoons of honey in a day.
However, people suffering from high sugar conditions or diabetes should not consume honey. Honey should also not be mixed with hot milk. In case you have a medical condition, please consult an Ayurvedic doctor before consuming honey.
#4 – Whole Grains and Legumes
Grains are edible seeds of plants and are considered to be ‘whole grains’ when they contain all the three key parts of the seed: the bran, germ, and the endosperm. Ayurveda recommends to eat whole grains where all the parts of the seed are intact.
All grains start as whole grains, but as they enter the markets, the key parts of the seed are stripped away in order to increase the shelf life of the product. This results in loss of important nutrients from the grains.
Whole grains keep the heart healthy, control appetite, regulate blood pressure, and maintain healthy cholesterol levels in the body. They are packed with antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Basmati Rice – is a part of sattvic diet and balances all the doshas in the body. Rice symbolizes health and fertility in many parts of world and is considered to be the staple food. It is easier to digest and provides nourishes to all of the tissues in the body.
As the basmati rice ages, its aroma and flavor increases. In many eastern cultures, rice is treated with great reverence and is also used in many festivals and rituals.
Buckwheat – is a fruit seed related to rhubarb. Generally, people mistake it to be form of wheat or a derivative of it. Buckwheat helps in balancing the vatta and kapha doshas, but increases pitta if consumed in access. It is also considered to be mildly rajasic. It is gluten free, has low GI (Glycemic Index), and contains iron, magnesium, and protein.
Another important food item in sattvic diet is legumes. Legumes are high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber, and are low in fat content. It is believed that the smaller the legumes, the better they are.
Some of the commonly used legumes are: whole mung bean, split chickpeas (also known as channa dal in India), black-eyed peas, lima beans, kidney beans, and many more. By combining whole grains with legumes we get a complete source of protein.
#5 – Fresh Organic Fruits
According to Ayurveda, fruits should be eaten when they are ripe and seasonal. Fruits that are fresh and ripe helps in digestion, provide nutrition to the body, and increase Ojas (key to perfect health and balanced emotions).
Some of the beneficial sattvic fruits according to Ayurveda:
- Raw Apple – if you suffer from vatta dosha (problems like dry skin, insomnia, forgetfulness, fatigue, constipation, and many more), cooked apples and apple sauce are beneficial. Cooked apples also help build bulk, soften the stool, and relieve constipation.
- Mango – is considered to be the ‘king’ of the ayurvedic fruits. Ripe mango is beneficial in vatta and pitta (symptoms like acid reflux, peptic ulcers, inflammation in joints, acne, loose stools, frustration, anger, and irritability) dosha. Mango also helps with constipation.
- Pomegranate – has been known to be a very beneficial fruit for thousands of years. Even its part, such as the root bark, is also beneficial in many health-related conditions. It helps to balance the pitta dosha in the body. It is known to cause constipation and hence, can be used as a home remedy for diarrhea.
- Bananas – are a good source of antioxidants. Ayurveda advises not to combine banana with milk or yogurt and not take any liquids within an hour of eating a banana.
Other fruits like grapes, watermelon, and pear are considered sattvic and have a lot of dosha-relieving properties.
#6 – Ayurvedic Herbs
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Ayurvedic herbs dated 3000 years old are said to have been used by great Indian yogis and sages, for physical and mental health benefits. Most of the eastern cultures till date use herbs to treat common problems we encounter on a day to day basis.
Some of the most useful herbs are as follows:
- Tulsi – also known as Holi Basil is a popular ayurvedic herb that is useful in skin-related ailments, prevents blood vessel growth, strengthens the immune system, improves bone health, and much more. It balances the kapha (symptoms such as excessive mucus, white coating in the tongue, slow bowel movement, feeling foggy, dull, and lethargic) dosha and also has a pacifying effect on vatta dosha. Tulsi leaves can be chewed raw early morning or consumed with drinks such as tea and coffee.
- Ashwagandha – is useful in anxiety, insomnia, stress, and adrenal dysfunction. Ashwagandha extract has the ability to lower cholesterol. It also has been said to increase sperm count in males and build stamina and endurance. When consumed early morning it keeps you activated for a longer time period in a day.
- Triphala – is a combination of three Indian herbs which are haritaki, bahera, and amla. It is considered very good for digestion and is also used in the treatment of constipation. It promotes good bacteria in the gut. Triphala should be consumed in small quantities only. Too much consumption of Triphala over time may cause erosion of the gut lining.
- Neem – is extremely beneficial in fungal, viral, and bacterial infections. It should always be consumed along with the food as it lowers blood sugar levels. Consuming it empty stomach can cause the blood sugar levels to go too low. People suffering from diabetes should be careful while using this herb. It also helps with the detoxification of the skin and balances excess pitta and kapha.
Although Ayurvedic herbs are generally harmless, people suffering from serious medical conditions and pregnant or nursing women should consult a certified medical professional before consuming any of these herbs.
#7 – Nuts, Seeds & Oils
Nuts are considered an important part of the diet as they are a good source of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Oils present in the nut are a good source of fat and contain antioxidants that help fight free radicals.
Nuts such as Almonds are good for energizing the mind and balancing the pitta dosha, whereas walnuts are considered astringent and are good for people with Kapha.
However, nuts should be consumed in moderation. In addition to the above, cashews and pistachio nuts offer a good source of protein.
Ayurveda believes that seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower help in pacifying the vatta dosha.
In addition, seeds like pumpkin and sunflower are also very beneficial.
According to Ayurveda, oils of almond and coconut are perfect for skin-related ailments.
On the other hand, peanuts are not considered sattvic and are generally not recommended by Ayurvedic experts, as they are difficult to digest and create lethargy in the body.
#8 – Organic Vegetables
Ayurveda suggests the use of organic vegetables for cooking without using onion and garlic which are said to be tamasic (not good for physical and mental well being) in nature.
Some of the vegetables which are considered sattvic are as follows: carrots, celery, cucumber, beets, sweet potatoes, and squash. While those that are not sattvic are mushrooms, hot peppers, and potatoes.
Ayurveda recommends drinking a juice made out of green vegetables, as it increases the prana (life giving force) in the body.
Ayurvedic classification of foods
In the ayurvedic system of food classification, the foods that decrease our body’s energy are called tamasic, while those that increase the energy are called rajasic.
Sattvic foods form a perfect balance of energy between our mind and body, brings clarity of perception, and enhances the experience of contentment.
Tamasic foods should be avoided as they create an imbalance of energy between body, mind and emotions.
Hence, Ayurveda discourages eating tamasic food and believes that a person who eats such food is harming his or her body and mind, the body’s ability to fight diseases, and disrupt the proper functioning of the immune system.
Food items like cakes, pastry, breads, mushrooms, onion, garlic, meat, and fish fall under the tamasic food category. Any food which is stale, or has been kept for long using preservatives, or has been canned or frozen is said to be tamasic.
Therefore, all packed food items which are mostly available in general markets and superstores are considered tamasic in nature. Even alcohol and tobacco has been classified as tamasic in the Ayurveda system of food classification.
Even fruits that are underripe or overripe are said to be tamasic. Also foods that are oily, overheated, spicy or very sour in taste are tamasic.
Ayurveda believes that eating tamasic food affects the prana (or the life force) of the body and gives rise to vrittis (tendencies in Sanskrit) such as greed, anger, lust, and lack of proper insight and reasoning.
Rajasic diet, on the other hand is something that falls between sattvic and tamasic diets. They much healthier as compared to tamasic foods but still are not considered as good as sattvic foods. Rajasic foods are stimulating and helps in activating the various functions of the body.
They are considered good for mental robustness, decision making and foe energizing the nervous system of the body. These foods help us to push beyond our normal capacity and capability. The word ‘Raja’ means the king, and hence, Ayurveda refers to such foods as the food of the kings.
Some of the common rajasic foods are as follows:
- Dairy – sour cream, sour milk.
- Fruits – apples, banana, and guava.
- Grains – corn, millet, and buckwheat.
- Vegetables – broccoli, spinach, potato, tamarind, pickles, cauliflower, and winter squash.
- Beans – toor dal (split pigeon peas), adzuki (red mung bean in english), and red lentils.
- Meat – chicken, fish, and shrimp.
Stimulants such as tea, coffee, and chocolate also fall under the rajas food category.
Rajas foods should be consumed in moderation. Instead of consuming regular tea and coffee, I recommend using this herbal tea bundle. This 9-tea pack includes teas like chamomile, turmeric, holy basil, and lavender which are extremely refreshing and has numerous health benefits.
Lastly, some of sattvic foods are as follows:
- Dairy – organic milk, ghee, and homemade yogurt.
- Vegetables – lettuce, parsley, sprouts, sweet potato, and yellow squash.
- Fruits – pomegranate, coconut, figs, pears, and mango.
- Beans – yellow dal (lentil), lima, and kidney beans.
- Grains – rice, blue corn, and tapioca.
- Spices – basil, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, and ginger.
Ayurveda stresses on eating foods that are close to nature. Refined, preserved, canned and leftover products are not good for health, and give rise to doshas in the body, as they are harder to breakdown and digest.
According to Ayurveda, consuming stale and preserved food gives rise to something known as Ama (digestive impurities) thataccumulates in the body and is a breading ground for all types of diseases.
Food that are fresh and more close to nature give prana or the life giving energy which increases health, longevity and overall well being.
It’s always advisable to purchase organic and fresh fruits from the market. Even nutritionists nowadays believe that fresh foods are good for health. One of the best ways to get fresh food is through the farmer’s market where farmers bring fresh fruits and vegetables.
We must understand that nothing has any meaning in life without a healthy body and mind. If you have poor health, even with a huge amount of money, you cannot enjoy life to its fullest.
In order to live a fulfilled life, we must provide proper nourishments to our body and mind and Ayurveda is one of ways to achieve that.
In order to make the most out of sattvic food, it’s important that the food must be prepared with full mindfulness, positivity, love and care. The positive energy vibrations produced while preparing food is transferred into the food items which ultimately enters our body and aids in digestion.
If you want to start eating sattvic diet, we recommend that you consult and ayurvedic practitioner, who will prescribe food items based on your doshas. Unfortunately, we don’t have time to get into doshas, as it is a huge topic in itself and maybe we will cover it in another post.
Just to give you a brief description there are three types of doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each of the dosha corresponds to a specific health problem symptom such as skin and digestive issues, constipation, cold and cought, and much more.
Have you ever eaten a sattvic diet? If yes, let us know your experience. In case you have any questions regarding the sattvic diet, let me know in the comments box.
The sole purpose of this post is to provide information about Ayurvedic Practices and its traditions. The information presented here is not intended to be used in the diagnosis, cure, treatment, or prevention of any disease.
If you are suffering from a chronic health condition it is most advisable to consult a trained medical professional who can fully diagnose your condition and address your needs effectively.