An ancient Ayurvedic proverb states, “When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; when diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” Did you know that what you eat—and what you avoid—can go a long way toward promoting your health in general, and heart health specifically? The following specific foods, spices, and Ayurvedic recipes nourish the heart holistically while helping to prevent the accumulation of toxins.
A Heart-Healthy Diet
Western medicine recommends a heart-healthy diet that’s rich in fresh produce, fiber, and healthy fats (like olive oil and avocados). All of these things are considered beneficial from the perspective of Ayurveda as well, though Ayurvedic cooking tends to emphasize easy-to-digest (bioavailable), cooked vegetables and meals over raw foods. When considering heart health, Ayurveda also considers both facets of the heart -- the physical heart and the emotional heart. Below, you’ll find a list of foods Ayurveda deems especially beneficial for your whole heart.
Seven Heart-Nourishing Foods
- Stewed Apples or Pears in the Morning
According to Ayurveda, eating fruit in the morning is like gold; this is the best time of day to absorb maximum nourishment from fruit. Moreover, eating cooked apples or pears in the morning helps to create ojas—the most refined by-product of digestion, which enhances vitality, strength, immunity, and general wellbeing. If you feel hungry in the morning, try not to skip breakfast. Doing so can irritate Sadhaka Pitta, the subdosha of Pitta that brings joy, contentment, and an even temper.
- Soaked, Blanched Almonds
Almonds have no cholesterol, but they do offer a good dose of heart-healthy fats! They are also considered to be sattvic (promoting purity and positivity) and to promote ojas. Because almond skins can be a little tough to digest and may have Pitta-increasing qualities, Ayurveda recommends either blanching the shelled nuts or soaking them overnight to remove the skins. Soaking the almonds overnight also makes the whole almond easier to digest.
- Heart-Friendly Spices
Did you know that certain spices have heart-friendly benefits, from the perspective of Ayurveda? Here’s a daily maintenance mixture you can sprinkle in soups, dahls, and on your vegetables (read the full recipe and storage instructions):
- 1 part ground turmeric
- 2 parts ground cumin
- 3 parts ground coriander
- 4 parts ground fennel
- Rose Lassi
In Ayurveda, roses are renowned for their cooling effect on the mind, body, and emotional heart. Not just for use as a fragrance, rose is liberally used as a flavoring in Ayurvedic sweets, puddings, jams, and in lassi (a digestive yogurt beverage). Here’s a simple recipe for rose lassi, which you can enjoy daily after lunch. It will nurture your emotional heart, support your digestion, and deliver a good dose of gut-friendly probiotics.
- Rose Petal Spread
There are lots of other ways to enjoy the Pitta-balancing effects of roses, even if you don’t have a rose garden blooming in your backyard. Our Organic Rose Petal Spread is very balancing for Sadhaka Pitta. Whether you spread it on toast, stir it into rice pudding, or add a teaspoonful to a mug of warm milk before bed for sweeter dreams, you will find it a delightful and balancing treat. Our Organic Rose Petal Spread is actually considered a rasayana—an herbal formula that promotes overall health and longevity. Rasayanas are considered among the most powerful, balancing formulas.
- Poppy Seed Chutney
Sleep is an important component in maintaining a healthy heart and balanced emotions. But sometimes subtle imbalances in the mind and heart can cause you to toss and turn at night. Ayurveda has a wonderful natural solution to help promote better sleep: Poppy Seed Chutney. Taken less than an hour before bed, it helps pacify the two subdoshas that are most likely to disturb sleep when imbalanced: Prana Vata in the mind and Sadhaka Pitta in the heart.
- Amrit Kalash
One Ayurvedic formula that’s particularly beneficial for heart health is our jam-like Amrit Nectar Paste—a powerful blend of Ayurvedic botanicals like amla, shatavari, dwarf morning glory, and gotu kola. High in heart-health-promoting antioxidants, it’s been shown in published research to promote healthy cholesterol, already within a normal range. It’s also an effective free-radical scavenger. Eat a spoonful a day, or try spreading it thinly on your toast for a heart-healthy Ayurvedic treat. (If you don’t care for the flavor, you can also enjoy Amrit Nectar in tablet form.) Other heart-healthy Ayurvedic herbals include Cardio Support, which helps maintain a healthy emotional heart in addition to supporting your physical heart, and BP Balance.
Avoid Toxin Build-Up
In addition to these specific heart-healthy foods, spices, and herbs, there are a few other dietary guidelines to keep in mind. Whenever possible, choose fresh foods over processed foods or leftovers, both of which can lead to ama, or toxins, building up in the body. When undigested toxins accumulate, they tend to do so in the heart. Also, bear in mind that deep-fried foods aren’t ideal for artery health, both from an Ayurvedic perspective and from that of Western medicine.
That being said, everything in moderation! Be sure to foster joy in your dietary choices—and in your life in general. When you’re happy, your heart reaps the benefits.
Three Ama-Reducing Recipes
By Raj Vaidya Siju and Chef Mosa
The following recipes are courtesy of two Maharishi Ayurveda panchakarma clinics in the United States—The Raj in Fairfield, Iowa, and the former Lancaster Health Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts. These delicious recipes help dissolve and digest ama—the toxins—in the heart and elsewhere, opening the srotas—the microcirculatory channels located throughout the body.
As you can see, taking care of your heart can be delicious! By tending to your physical and emotional heart through simple foods, spices and herbs, you’ll be nourishing your heart deeply and holistically.
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