Sattvic Diet: What Is It and What Are Its Benefits?

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In Ayurveda, foods are classified into three categories: Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic. Sattvic foods have the highest Gunas or qualities and help promote balance, improve energy and produce happiness. Rajasic foods. on the other hand, represent activity and movement. Eating a lot of Rajasic foods can lead to stress, jealousy, anger and overstimulation. Lastly, the Tamasic diet is associated with pessimism, weakness and laziness. Therefore, Ayurveda promotes eating a Sattvic diet as much as possible.

What Does Ayurveda Say About the Sattvic Diet?

The word Sattvic means ‘pure essence’. According to Ayurveda, a Sattvic diet helps promote longevity, physical strength and mental health (2). 

A Sattvic diet includes foods that are copious in Prana, the universal life force. It generally comprises seasonal foods, milk, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc. Sattvic foods are usually fresh, juicy, light and nutritious and provide the optimum amount of energy to the body (3). 

By nature, a Sattvic diet is vegetarian. All convenience, processed, overcooked and spicy foods fall under the category of the Tamasic diet. However, this does not mean that a Sattvic diet is bland and flavourless. On the contrary, as per Ayurveda, a Sattvic diet must have all the 6 Rasa or tastes, viz sweet, salt, bitter, sour, pungent and astringent (3).

Characteristics of a Sattvic diet (3)

  • It does not consist of complex foods and is freshly cooked. 
  • It promotes eating organic and seasonal foods. 
  • It has all the essential nutrients from different sources. 
  • It restricts the consumption of packaged, processed and canned foods. 
  • It encourages eating foods at the right time with mindfulness. 

Health Benefits of Eating a Sattvic Diet

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Provides Essential Nutrients

A Sattvic diet includes whole, nutritious foods, like vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc. They help provide an adequate amount of proteins, healthy fats, fibres, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients that help promote overall health (1) (3). 

Reduces the Risk of Chronic Diseases

Sattvic diet comprises vegetables, fruits, nuts and beans, all of which are essential to improve health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart diseases, diabetes and colorectal cancer (4) (5) (6). 

Promotes Weight Loss

A Sattvic diet is rich in dietary fibres and vegetarian foods. Many studies have found that this helps to promote weight loss in overweight individuals and lower their BMI (7).

What To Eat in a Sattvic Diet (2)?

  • Land and sea vegetables like spinach, carrot, potatoes, lettuce, peas and cauliflower
  • Fresh fruits such as apples, bananas, papayas, mangoes, cherries, melons, peaches and guavas
  • Whole grains like barley, amaranth, millet, maize etc. 
  • Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, unsweetened coconut and flax seeds
  • Healthy fats such as ghee, sesame oil, mustard oil, etc. 
  • Legumes and beans like moong beans, chickpeas and lentils 
  • Dairy and non-dairy products, such as cow milk, yoghurt, cheese, coconut milk and cashew milk  
  • Spices such as coriander, basil, nutmeg, cumin, fenugreek, turmeric and ginger
  • Sweeteners like honey and jaggery
  • Beverages such as herbal teas, fresh fruit juices and vegetable juices 

What Not To Eat in a Sattvic Diet (2)?

  • Excessively spicy, salty and sour foods, including pickles
  • Beverages like tea, coffee and alcohol 
  • Onion and garlic as they fall under the Rajasic category 
  • Fried and frozen foods, processed foods, microwaved foods, stale foods and fast foods
  • Non-vegetarian foods like meat, eggs, chicken and fish
  • Added sugar and sweeteners like white sugar, candy and soda

On a Final Note

A Sattvic diet is a wholesome, nutritious and vegetarian diet that aims at increasing Prana in the body and improving your overall health. It provides all the essential nutrients, lowers the risk of chronic diseases, and promotes healthy body weight. 

 

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Dr Sunanda Ranade

Sunanda Ranade is Vice-Chairman of the International Academy of Ayurved, Pune, India, and an expert Ayurvedic gynecologist and nutritionist. She has been working in this field for the last 47 years. Dr. Sunanda Ranade holds a Doctorate in Ayurveda. She is also the author of several books on Ayurveda and Yoga, which have been published in Marathi, English, Spanish, and Portuguese.