wellness

Chilly days and nights, a breeze blowing drying air – these are common when we’re in Vata Season. If you’ve been following along this year with our Ayurveda posts, you’ll remember that with this science we work with opposites. When it’s hot outside, we eat cooler foods. When it’s damp out, we eat warming foods that are drying in nature. And when it’s the wintertime and Vata is in full effect, we go for the moist heat.

I love this time of year, with its cooler weather and comfort foods. And cooking Ayurvedically during Vata Season means we break out the spicier of the spices, soups, and warm, nourishing foods.

Read on to learn all about what spices, fruits, veggies, and even supplements are your new best friends this time of year.

The tastes that increase Vata are:

*pungent (ex: cayenne pepper, chili pepper, black pepper, onion, radish, garlic, mustard, ginger)

*bitter (ex: turmeric, dandelion root, aloe vera, coffee, rhubarb)

*astringent (ex: unripe banana, pomegranate, chickpeas, green beans, alfalfa sprouts)

The tastes that help reduce Vata are:

*sweet (ex: sugars, milk, rice, wheat)

*sour (ex: citrus, sour cream, yogurt, cheese, vinegar, green grapes)

*salty (ex: salt)

Here is a decent list to help you make empowered choices as you ground yourself and reduce Vata. 

Fruits to reduce Vata:

(generally most sweet fruit)

*apples (cooked)

*applesauce

*apricots

*avocado

*bananas

*berries

*cherries

*coconut

*dates (fresh)

*figs (fresh)

*grapefruit

*grapes

*kiwi

*lemons

*limes

*mangoes

*melons

*oranges

*papaya

*peaches

*pineapple

*plums

*prunes (soaked)

*raisins (soaked)

*rhubarb

*strawberries

*tamarind

Fruits that increase Vata (and should be avoided this time of year):

(generally most dried fruit)

*apples (raw)

*cranberries

*dates (dry)

*figs (dry)

*pears

*persimmons

*pomegranates

*raisins (dry)

*prunes (dry)

*watermelon

Vegetables to reduce Vata:

(in general, veggies should be cooked)

*asparagus

*beets

*cabbage, cooked (in moderation)

*carrots

*cauliflower (in moderation)

*cilantro

*cucumber

*daikon radish (in moderation)

*fennel (anise)

*garlic

*green beans

*green chilies

*Jerusalem artichoke (in moderation)

*leafy greens (in moderation)

*leeks

*lettuce (in moderation)

*mustard greens (in moderation)

*okra

*black olives

*onions (cooked)

*parsley (in moderation)

*parsnip

*peas (cooked)

*potatoes, sweet

*pumpkin

*radishes, cooked (in moderation)

*rutabaga

*spaghetti squash (in moderation)

*spinach, raw (in moderation)

*sprouts (in moderation)

*squash, summer

*taro root

*turnip greens (in moderation)

*watercress

*zucchini

Vegetables that increase Vata (and should be avoided this time of year):

(generally frozen, raw, or dried veggies)

*artichoke

*beet greens (okay rarely)

*bitter melon

*broccoli

*Brussels sprouts

*burdock root

*cabbage (raw)

*cauliflower (raw)

*celery

*corn, fresh (okay rarely)

*dandelion greens

*eggplant

*horseradish (okay rarely)

*kale

*kohlrabi

*mushrooms

*olives, green

*onions (raw)

*peas (raw)

*peppers, sweet and hot

*potatoes, white

*prickly pear (fruit and leaves)

*radish (raw)

*squash, winter

*tomatoes, cooked (okay rarely)

*turnip

*wheatgrass sprouts

Grains to reduce Vata:

*amaranth (in moderation)

*Durham flour

*oats (cooked)

*pancakes

*quinoa

*rice (all kinds)

*seitan (wheat meat)

*sprouted wheat bread

*wheat

Grains that increase Vata (and should be avoided this time of year):

*barley

*bread (with yeast)

*buckwheat

*cereals (cold, dry, or puffed)

*corn

*couscous

*crackers

*granola

*millet

*muesli

*oat bran

*oats (dry)

*pasta ( okay rarely)

*polenta (okay rarely)

*rice cakes (okay rarely)

*rye

*sago

*spelt

*tapioca

*wheat bran

Legumes to reduce Vata:

*lentils, red (in moderation)

*mung beans

*mung dal

*soy cheese (in moderation)

*soy milk (in moderation)

*soy sauce (in moderation)

*soy sausages (in moderation)

*tofu (in moderation)

*tur dal

*urad dal

Legumes that increase Vata (and should be avoided this time of year):

*aduki beans

*black beans

*black-eyed peas

*chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

*kidney beans

*lentils (brown)

*lima beans

*miso (okay rarely)

*navy beans

*peas (dried)

*pinto beans

*soybeans

*soy flour

*soy powder

*split peas

*tempeh

*white beans

Dairy to reduce Vata:

(most dairy is good!)

*butter

*buttermilk

*cheese, hard (in moderation)

*cheese, soft

*cottage cheese

*cow’s milk

*ghee

*goat’s cheese

*goat’s milk

*ice cream (in moderation)

*sour cream (in moderation)

*yogurt, diluted and spiced (in moderation)

Dairy that increases Vata (and should be avoided this time of year):

*cow’s milk, powdered

*goat’s milk, powdered

*yogurt (plain, frozen, or with fruit)

Animal foods to reduce Vata:

*beef

*buffalo

*chicken, dark meat

*chicken, white meat (in moderation)

*duck

*eggs

*fish (freshwater or sea)

*salmon

*sardines

*seafood

*shrimp

*tuna fish

*turkey (dark meat)

Animal foods that increase Vata (and should be avoided this time of year):

*lamb

*pork

*rabbit

*venison

*turkey (white meat)

Condiments to reduce Vata:

*black pepper (in moderation)

*chutney, mango (sweet or spicy)

*chili peppers (in moderation)

*coriander leaves (in moderation)

*dulse

*gomasio

*kelp

*ketchup

*lemon

*lime

*mayo

*mustard

*pickles

*salt

*scallions

*seaweed

*soy sauce

*sprouts (in moderation)

*tamari

*vinegar

Condiments that increase Vata (and should be avoided this time of year):

*chocolate

*horseradish

Nuts to reduce Vata:

(in moderation)

*almonds

*black walnuts

*Brazil nuts

*cashews

*coconut

*Filberts

*hazelnuts

*macadamia nuts

*peanuts

*pecans

*pine nuts

*pistachios

*walnuts

Nuts that increase Vata (and should be avoided this time of year):

(none)

Seeds to reduce Vata:

*chia

*flax

*pumpkin

*sesame

*sunflower

*tahini

Seeds that increase Vata (and should be avoided this time of year):

*popcorn

*psyllium (okay rarely)

Oils to reduce Vata:

(for internal and external use)

*sesame

*ghee

*olive

*most other oils

-external use only-

*coconut

*avocado

Oils that increase Vata (and should be avoided this time of year):

*flax seed

Beverages to reduce Vata:

*alcohol (beer; white wine, both in moderation)

*almond milk

*aloe vera juice

*apple cider

*apricot juice

*berry juice (except cranberry juice)

*carob (in moderation)

*carrot juice

*chai (hot spiced milk)

*cherry juice

*grain “coffee”

*grape juice

*grapefruit juice

*lemonade

*mango juice

*miso broth

*orange juice

*papaya juice

*peach nectar

*pineapple juice

*rice milk

*sour juices

*soy milk (hot and well-spiced, in moderation)

*vegetable bouillon

Beverages that increase Vata (and should be avoided this time of year):

*alcohol (hard; red wine)

*apple juice

*black tea

*caffeinated beverages

*carbonated drinks

*chocolate milk

*coffee

*cold dairy drinks

*cranberry juice

*iced tea

*icy cold drinks

*pear juice

*pomegranate juice

*prune juice (okay rarely)

*soy milk, cold

*tomato juice (okay rarely)

*V-8 juice

Herbal teas to reduce Vata:

*ajwan

*catnip (in moderation)

*chamomile

*chicory (in moderation)

*chrysanthemum (in moderation)

*clove

*elder flower

*eucalyptus

*fennel

*fenugreek

*ginger, fresh

*hawthorn

*juniper berry

*lavender

*lemongrass

*licorice

*marshmallow

*oat straw

*orange peel

*peppermint

*raspberry (in moderation)

*rosehips

*saffron

*spearmint

*strawberry (in moderation)

*wintergreen (in moderation)

Herbal teas that increase Vata (and should be avoided this time of year):

*alfalfa (okay rarely)

*barley (okay rarely)

*basil (okay rarely)

*blackberry

*borage (okay rarely)

*burdock

*cinnamon (okay rarely)

*cornsilk

*dandelion

*ginseng

*hibiscus

*hops (okay rarely)

*jasmine (okay rarely)

*lemon balm (okay rarely)

*Mormon tea

*nettle (okay rarely)

*passionflower (okay rarely)

*red clover (okay rarely)

*red zinger (okay rarely)

*violet (okay rarely)

*yarrow

*yerba mate (okay rarely)

Spices to reduce Vata:

(all spices are good)

*almond extract

*anise

*basil

*bay leaf

*black pepper

*caraway

*cardamom

*cayenne (in moderation)

*cinnamon

*cloves

*coriander

*cumin

*dill

*fennel

*fenugreek (in moderation)

*garlic

*ginger

*marjoram

*mint

*mustard seeds

*nutmeg

*orange peel

*oregano

*paprika

*parsley

*peppermint

*poppy seeds

*rosemary

*saffron

*salt

*savory

*spearmint

*star anise

*tarragon

*thyme

*turmeric

*vanilla

*wintergreen

Spices that increase Vata (and should be avoided this time of year):

(none)

Sweeteners to reduce Vata:

*barley malt

*fructose

*fruit juice concentrates

*honey

*jaggery

*molasses

*rice syrup

*sucanat

*turbinado

Sweeteners that increase Vata (and should be avoided this time of year):

*maple syrup (okay rarely)

*white sugar

Food supplements to reduce Vata:

*aloe vera juice (in moderation)

*bee pollen

*amino acids

*minerals (calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc)

*royal jelly

*spirulina

*blue-green algae

vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, E, P, and folic acid)

Food supplements that increase Vata (and should be avoided this time of year):

*barely green

*brewer’s yeast

*vitamin K

While this wasn’t a complete list, this info will get you well on your way to remaining balanced during this time of year. 

One thing to pay attention to, as you spice up your foods:  If you’re already a fiery person, check in with yourself often.  Spicy foods can have a way of making us spicy people if we already have a firecracker personality.  If you notice your fuse is getting a little shorter, dial back the heat in your foods.  The goal is to be in balance and not create an imbalance by going too far.  An honest personal assessment will help guide you on your daily Ayurvedic journey.