The feeling of peace surrounding Ayurveda is one of the things that attracts people to this ancient practice. Being one of the oldest medical sciences in the world, the history of Ayurveda is traceable to over 5000 years ago. Research conducted on the history of the development of ayurvedic medicine in Russia revealed that even in the modern world, this Asian science still maintains a prominent position as the World Health Organisation also recognizes it (9). Those who practice yoga have one or two things to do with the sattvic diet because of the practice’s philosophy. Those who practice this dietary plan feed on nutritious foods, including nuts and fresh products, which is partly why the diet is considered to have different health benefits.
The sattvic diet is rich in fiber and low in fat, thus, many yoga enthusiasts follow it. As a matter of fact, in the practice of yoga, three types of food are prominent, which are rajasic, tamasic, and sattvic.
Based on yoga philosophy, there are internal connections between diet and the mind, although it is difficult to prove using modern scientific methods. A conceptual review on yoga, bioenergetics, and eating behaviors reported that the diet is considered to help increase energy, produce calmness, happiness, and mental clarity. Also, it is said to be capable of enhancing health longevity and spirituality (16).
What Is A Sattvic Diet?
A sattvic diet focuses on seasonal foods, fruits, nuts, ripe vegetables, oils, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and non-meat-based proteins. Sattvic means pure essence, and it is considered to be the purest diet for anyone who is spiritually and health-conscious (11). This means that anyone who desires a quiet, meditative, and peaceful life will find a sattvic dietary plan worth following. Sometimes, the sattvic diet is referred to as a yogic diet based on modern literature.
Every food that is contained in the sattvic diet is fresh, nutritious, juicy, and tasty. They are grown organically and unrefined as much as possible. It is also worth noting that sattvic food includes a significant amount of functional foods like tomatoes, red amaranth, and milk. Sattvic foods are similar to vegetarian diets, and as such, foods derived from animals are not permitted to be consumed (14).
How To Start A Sattvic Diet?
Following a sattvic dietary plan isn’t a challenging thing to do. It begins by planning the kind of meals to follow, which are expected to include a balance of carbs, protein, and fats. While garlic and onions should be out of the meal plan because they tend to increase heat in the body, fresh fruits, vegetables, dairies, legumes, whole grains, and nuts should be chosen based on their variety. Nevertheless, whatever classes of food menu a person is opting for must be approved under the dietary plan.
As much as possible, mindful eating is encouraged, which means all forms of distractions must be dealt with when eating. Then, when chewing, it must be done carefully. Portions served must be modest. A dieter on this food plan is admonished to avoid too much spice and salt, and at the same time, make sure that they enjoy the food for the taste and quality that it naturally has, instead of the added spices and seasonings. Since a person’s primary reason for following a sattvic dietary plan is to enjoy a healthy mind and body, it is essential to eat according to one’s dosha, that is, in correspondence to one’s physical and personality traits (15).
What Foods To Avoid And To Consume On Sattvic Diet?
Overcooked and stale foods must be avoided, or else it would be considered tamasic, that is destructive. Foods to be consumed are expected to be cooked fresh and simple and should be combined from various sources to get the necessary nutrients that the body needs. Only what can be finished at the time should be prepared to avoid wastage, and when preparing any food, it should be done with love and gratitude before consumption. Processed foods are not encouraged when on this plan because freshness in whatever is consumed is essential. Since food consumed is for the soul, to maintain a clean, true, and virtuous soul, the food also has to follow the same pattern (15).
Sattvic Diet List
Before considering following this dietary pattern, it is imperative to understand the essential foods that are permitted to be consumed and those that a dieter should avoid.
Foods To Consume
- Fruits and fruit juices including carrots, peaches, melon, cherries, mangoes, papaya, bananas, apples, dates, pears, peaches, citrus fruits like lemons, sweet lime, oranges, grapes, and fresh fruit juices.
- Dairy and non-dairy products, including coconut milk, almond milk, high-quality milk, yogurt, cashew milk, and seed-based cheeses.
- Legumes and bean products, including tofu, chickpeas, mung beans, lettuce, and bean sprouts.
- Spices, including turmeric, ginger, coriander, basil, pepper, jeera, and cinnamon.
- Sprouted whole grains like barley, quinoa, amaranth, aged and brown rice, oats, whole wheat, and millets (because bread contains yeast and is processed, its consumption is discouraged when following this dietary plan).
- Pulses, including lentils, Moong dal, soybean, and yellow peas.
- Nuts, oils, and seeds. Any nuts and seeds, which are not roasted or salted, are considered. Almonds soaked overnight and peeled are recognized to be very good for health. At the same time, Ayurveda recommends cold-pressed oils.
Sattvic Diet Health Benefits
Considering all these varieties of foods, many health benefits can be derived from them. For instance, whole grains have immunity-boosting properties and fibers that can help regulate your gastrointestinal tract. Spices also have antimicrobial properties and other properties that aid digestion. Nuts like Brazil nuts have monounsaturated fats, calcium, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and some vitamin B, and they also help reduce inflammation, regulate the thyroid gland, and reduce the risk of developing different kinds of cancer.
Moreover, spices like cinnamon do not just flavor but are also suitable for health. Cinnamon, for instance, contains magnesium, carbohydrates, calcium, and vitamin, which also reduce inflammation and blood sugar levels. Starch vegetables like sweet potatoes are a healthier alternative to starchy white potatoes. They contain vitamins B and C, potassium, copper, and manganese that help in the treatment of respiratory problems and fight against stomach ulcers and arthritis.
Foods To Avoid
While a dieter can consume plant-based foods, it is also worth noting that certain foods are meant to be avoided to enjoy the plan’s benefits. Some of the foods to avoid include the following (10):
- Processed foods
- Artificial sugar
- Meat, poultry, and fish
- Caffeine and alcohol
- Fried, spicy, and overly cooked foods
- Added sugar
- Onion and garlic
Sattvic Diet Plan
Anyone who is considering following this dietary plan can take the sample meal plan below that can be worked with. Notwithstanding, it is essential to note that this is not a hard and fast rule that must be followed strictly; the dieter can mix and match the meals depending on their preferences.
Greek yogurt with a topping of fresh fruit and muesli with herbal tea.
Salad with sweet potato, avocado, chickpeas, and fresh veggies, together with lemon and olive oil dressing.
Chickpea cauliflower masala with cumin and turmeric served over brown rice.
For a snack, an individual can go for fresh fruit and nut butter.
Oatmeal with toppings of nut butter, cinnamon, and fresh berries. Herbal tea can go with it, as well.
Spring rolls with rice noodles, sliced veggies, basil, and mint served with vegetarian pad thai.
Stir-fried vegetables with ginger, tofu, and brown rice.
For what to snack on, Greek yogurt will be good.
Green smoothie with avocado, kale, hemp seeds, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, banana, coconut water, and plant-based protein powder.
Sweet potato soup and lentil with spinach. When preparing, garlic or onions must not be added.
Roasted cauliflower steak with lightly toasted pine nuts and garlic free pesto.
For the snack, a person could have a trail mix.
A dieter may ask, “Where do I get my protein from a sattvic diet?” High-quality protein can be sourced from green leafy vegetables, legumes, and dairy products. The good thing about them is that they do not pollute the internal system, and they can be digested easily (17).
Sattvic Diet Recipe (6)
- Rinsed basmati rice (½ cup)
- Split yellow mung beans (½ cup)
- Water (4 cups)
- ½-inch cubes chopped pears (2 balls)
- Pitted and chopped medjool dates (4)
- Sweet spice mix (2 tablespoons)
- Coconut oil (1 tablespoon)
- Combine mung beans and rice in a medium-sized saucepan.
- Add four cups of water and place over high heat until it is boiled.
- Lower the heat to medium-low before simmering without cover. Do this until the beans become soft and start breaking down.
- Then, add sweet spice mix, dates, and pears to the pan before mixing.
- Simmer until everything looks like porridge.
- If it is too thick or the kitchari dries out, some water can be added.
- Lastly, remove from heat; then add salt and coconut oil. Once this is done, patiently wait for about five minutes before dishing it.
Benefits Of A Sattvic Diet
One of the major questions a dieter who wants to follow this dietary plan will likely ask is if the sattvic diet is healthy and sustainable in the long-term or not. The diet has different health benefits, as noted earlier. Some of these are explained below.
Possible Promotion Of Weight Loss
Anyone who is hoping to shed some calories can find the sattvic diet worth following. This is because the diet has enough fiber and plant foods that can promote weight loss. Research conducted to confirm the relationship between vegetarian diets and cardiovascular risk factors found out that those who follow the vegetarian diet could enjoy reduced body mass indexes and body fat compared to non-vegetarians (2). Also, research on a plant-based diet in reducing body fat confirmed that people who consume foods that have reduced calorie density could benefit from weight loss compared to those who reduce their portion sizes (7).
Possible Risk Reduction Of Chronic Disease
Since a vegetarian diet is associated with a sizable reduction in the level of risk of heart diseases like Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol and high blood pressure, a sattvic diet, which also contains foods that vegetarians feed on, can possibly reduce a person’s risk of chronic disease as well.
Promotion Of Whole Nutrient-Dense Foods
The food menu contained in the sattvic diet plan is mostly all-nutrient meals like nuts, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Considering the nutrients contained in these classes of food, a dieter can enjoy healthy fats, protein, vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals, all of which promote proper functioning of the body.
Possible Protection Against Colorectal Cancer And Diabetes
A person can enjoy protection against diabetes and colorectal cancer based on some of the benefits that a vegetarian diet gives, as reported in research on the vegetarian diet and the risk of diabetes (12). In the same vein, research on the association between vegetarian dietary patterns and the risk of colorectal cancer confirmed that vegetarian dietary patterns have a possible association with a lower risk of colorectal cancer considering the reduced or no consumption of meat in the food plan (13).
Researches are still being carried out on the connection between the gut-brain microbiome concerning the premise that what a person eats affects their emotions. But then, a systematic review and meta-analysis carried out on dietary patterns and depression in community-dwelling adults reported that the consumption of plant-based foods may be associated with a reduced risk of depression (3). The research made it known that vegetables, whole grains, and fruits can reduce the risk of depression.
Consumption of foods like whole grains, nuts, and legumes has a low glycemic index which slows down digestion and provides the body with a steady stream of energy. The Glycemic index is a scoring system that helps in the classification of food items based on their potential impacts on response to blood glucose. These whole foods also have nutrients that fuel the cells, which are needed for proper functioning.
Downsides Of A Sattvic Diet
As much as the dietary plan has health benefits, the unfortunate thing is that some nutritious foods are forbidden for anyone following the plan. For instance, radishes are not permitted and according to research on the nutraceutical’s potential of Raphanus sativus, they contain medicinal and nutritional values that can be used in treating urinary infections, stomach disorders, cardiac disorders, ulcers, and even hepatic inflammation, among others (5).
Capsaicin is another spice that is discouraged in this plan and research found out that capsaicin may have significant potential for promoting metabolic and vascular health. According to research, it is capable of modulating metabolism through the activation of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) receptors (4).
Foods like mushrooms and onions are also some other exceptionally healthy foods that are not permitted to be consumed when following this plan because they are classified under either tamasic or rajasic categories. Considering all these restricted foods is a reason why following the plan for a long period may be somewhat challenging.
In conclusion, the sattvic diet is an essential part of yoga, since yoga’s believe that diet plays an integral function in maintaining a pure soul as well as a peaceful state. The plan emphasizes organic and fresh foods and the avoidance of foods that contain chemicals. Since the vegetarian diet has many health benefits, the sattvic diet, which shares similarities with vegetarianism, also assures some health benefits.
Practically, when a person follows a sattvic dietary plan, such is considered to have higher frequencies that can help them cultivate a higher mind that understands a kind of spiritual contentment and deep truths. Organic foods from the garden or farm and non-GMO are considered high-frequency foods, while those that are frozen, fried, canned, or out of the box are considered low-frequency foods, and therefore discouraged from consumption (6).
Apart from following a proper diet, physical exercise is also essential for your body and health.