Grains—a mainstay in Ayurvedic cuisine, and cultures around the world—are nutritional powerhouses that provide carbohydrates, protein, iron, calcium, potassium, and important B vitamins necessary for a balanced diet. When combined with legumes, beans, and milk products, grains form complete proteins, especially useful for vegetarians. According to Ayurveda, all grains help to build bone tissue, muscle, and give bodily strength and endurance. However, certain grains are more balancing for each dosha than others. Use this guide to choose the best grains for you, and get cooking!
Ayurvedic Grains for Your Dosha
Ayurveda recommends having grains at each meal if you are a vegetarian to provide adequate energy for the body. There are a variety of different grains, and each grain has a specific influence on each dosha. Therefore, depending on whether the diet you are following is geared towards balancing Vata, Pitta, or Kapha, you should choose the right grains that will help balance and nourish your physiology. Vata and Pitta types can consume high quantities of grains, while Kapha types should have smaller amounts to avoid weight gain. Use the following lists as your guide for the appropriate grains to balance your dosha.
Grains for Vata
The following grains help counter the dry qualities of Vata dosha. They help with lubrication, energy, and enhance physical strength and endurance. Wheat should be eaten often by people trying to balance Vata.
- Bread (whole grain)
- Quinoa (If you’re trying to balance Vata, try eating it with a little olive oil or ghee.
Grains for Pitta
To help balance Pitta’s hot, sharp qualities, cooling, sweet grains are best. Basmati rice is the best grain for balancing Pitta. It is cooling and a little heavy, so it is not recommended to eat every day. Three to four servings per week are ideal. Basmati rice is also made into flour, which can be used for baking.
- Basmati rice (avoid brown rice due to its heating properties)
Grains for Kapha
Drier, lighter grains suit Kapha best. If you have a Kapha imbalance, try reducing—but not totally avoiding—wheat products. Too much wheat can cause weight gain and increase the amount of mucus in the body if you have a cold or allergies. Barley is the best grain for balancing Kapha because it's relatively lighter to digest, and it does not produce excess mucus in the body. Barley is also made into flour and can be used in baking and making flatbreads. Barley Water is highly beneficial for balancing weight and for kidney balance.
With a little planning and recipe exploration, you’ll find your favorite ways to incorporate nutritious and delicious, dosha-appropriate grains into your daily diet. For more meal ideas, head to our Ayurvedic recipe blog.
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