Healing Foods in Ayurveda

written by Anjula April 18, 2007

Some foods are considered especially healing in Ayurveda. According to Ayurvedic tradition, a central dietary teaching is to eat in order to provide adequate nutrition for the mind and the body without being too onerous on the digestive system or your body’s ability to fully absorb and utilize those nutrients. There are many easy-to-digest foods that are wholesome and provide multiple health benefits and are prized in Ayurveda. Ayurveda categorizes foods by rasa (taste)…the tastes being sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. The typical North American diet includes plenty of the first three tastes and not enough of the last three, and ideally all six tastes should be included at each main meal. Ayurveda also classifies foods according to their quality–foods are considered dry or unctuous, heavy or light, warm or cool according to their physical nature.

In accordance with Ayurvedic teachings, it is recommended to include more of those tastes and qualities that pacify the dosha(s) you are trying to balance at a given time, and less of others. Vegetables and herbs or spices that contribute the bitter or astringent tastes, whole milk, lassi (a drink made by blending together fresh yogurt and water), cooked fruit, chutneys, whole grains, unleavened fresh breads made with flour that has not been refined, and mung beans are examples of particularly nourishing and healing foods that are recommended in Ayurveda. Foods are also classified as sattvic, rajasic and tamasic according to the quality of the impact they have on the heart, mind and spirit.

Foods that are particularly nourishing for not just physical, but mental, emotional and spiritual health, are called sattvic–foods that impart sattva (purity)–in Ayurveda. Rice, milk, ghee and almonds are examples of sattvic foods. Ghee (clarified butter) is among the best rejuvenating and longevity-promoting foods. It aids digestion and calms the nerves. Ghee’s rate of absorption is high, making it an excellent medium for transporting the nutrients of other foods to the tissues.

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