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Ayurvedic insights on salads

Ayurvedic Insights on Salads

When you think of salads, you think fresh, green, vital, healthy and refreshing. There is a general view in the nutritional community that salads are an important part of daily life. Let’s discover how the ancient science of Ayurveda looks at salads.

Ayurveda emphasises that we need to eat a diet of mostly warm and cooked food. Generally it does not promote salads. Why?

Ayurveda places a great deal of importance on the quality of our digestion. Every individual in this universe is different and we all have different level of digestive capability.

In Ayurveda we speak about two types of cooking, one that happens in the kitchen and the other that happens after we eat our food. While the external cooking depends upon the heat of our stove’s fire, the internal cooking depends upon the heat of our digestive system’s fire. It is called our agni. People with strong agni can eat raw and uncooked food but people with weak agni must cook their food in the kitchen. They need to support their body’s current state of agni so they can receive the best nutrition and make it available for their energy, health and performance.

For many people with weaker digestive fire, raw salads can be cold, rough and hard to digest. They increase vata energy and can lead to indigestion, bloating, gaseous distension and other bodily discomfort.

Guidelines for raw salads

  • Enjoy raw salads only if your digestive fire is strong. Vata folk are better to avoid green and raw salads, pitta folk can eat them in moderation and kapha folk are generally OK with salads.
  • The best time to eat salads is at noon and summer season, when the digestive fire is at its peak.
  • Prepare and eat salads right away. If you leave them longer than an hour, they lose their prana or vital force and can cause digestive toxins (ama). Salads are not good as left-overs.
  • Choose produce that is in season. As well as leafy greens, you can use whole grains, beans, and herbs. There is an endless variety of ingredients you can use to dish up an appetizing Ayurvedic salad.

salads in Ayuveda

Guidelines for cooked salads

Cooking makes the nutrients in the vegetables and grains easier to digest and absorb. Cooking in an Ayurvedic kitchen does not mean you have to cook on high heat or even right through.

You can cook your salads on medium to low heat until they are warm, still firm and definitely not soft and mushy or over-cooked.

  • Add a small amount of ghee or oil to enhance flavor, aroma and healing qualities and to dissolve the fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Then add some spices like black pepper, ginger, cumin and turmeric that kindle the digestive fire and clear the bodily channels.
  • Add salt to support absorption of the nutrients and ignite the agni.
  • Add fresh green herbs like coriander leaves and parsley to increase flavor and color.
  • Normal green vegetables take less time to cook while pulses and beans need longer.
Vata balancing Pitta balancing Kapha balancing
  • cucumber (lightly cooked is even better)
  • cooked beets
  • carrots
  • radishes cooked with ghee or olive oil
  • oats
  • wheat and wheat products like semolina, farina, wheat berries.
  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • brussels sprouts
  • broccoli
  • fennel bulbs
  • oats
  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • amaranth
  • barley
  • buckwheat
  • millet
  • beans