Ayurvedic Diet: Pros, Cons, and How It Works

Ayurveda is the combination of two words in Sanskrit. They are “ayur” and “veda.” Ayur means “life.” Veda means “science.” So, Ayurveda means the science of life.

It is an Indian system of alternative medicine based on a holistic and natural approach. It is designed not only to cure but also to improve our overall mental and physical health.

This system is regarded by some people as the best healing science in the world. It has a long trajectory of 3000+ years in India and states that diseases come from an imbalance of diet in our biology, bio-elements, or as they call them, “doshas.”

What is an Ayurvedic diet?

The ayurvedic diet is an eating pattern based on the Ayurveda medical system. It provides guidelines on what to eat and what to avoid. The goal is to improve your health by creating a balance in your body. That way, you will be able to manage the disease and feel better.

By following this type of diet, you will be eating fresh foods instead of heavily processed foods. But it is not only about picking the right foods. It is also about mindful eating and connecting with your food and how good it is to your body.

How does it work?

According to Ayurvedic principles, health problems come from an imbalance in your doshas, or bio-elements. In Ayurveda, five elements make up the universe. They are space (Akash), water (Vayu), earth (Prithvi), fire (Teja), and air (Vayu).

These elements are believed to form three different types of doshas. They are energies related to natural elements. They are Kapha dosha (water and earth), Pitta dosha (fire), and Vata dosha (air). 

Every person has a unique set of energies according to their physical, mental, and emotional health. These energies circulate in our bodies and are responsible for specific functions in the human body.

According to the Ayurveda diet, you can also stimulate each energy to rebalance with certain foods. Thus, we need to find our own type of energy and realize which one is out of balance.

We may know that according to our health problems (1).

  • Kapha (water and earth): Responsible for joint function and growth.

  • Vata (air): Responsible for movement and electrolyte balance. It is also responsible for autonomic functions in the body. For example, breathing and blood circulation.

  • Pitta (fire): Controls body temperature, hunger, thirst, digestion, and metabolic functions.

We may also realize which is our predominant energy based on our emotions (1).

  • Kapha (water and earth): Balanced Kapha leads to mercy and love. Unbalanced Kapha leads to envy and insecurity.

  • Vata (air): When vatta is balanced, it will lead to vitality and creativity. When unbalanced, it leads to anxiety and depression.

  • Pitta (fire): Balanced pitta leads to intelligence, and unbalance pitta leads to anger.

The above energies are present in every one of us. However, only one can be dominant. The food you’re meant to eat depends on the dominancy of your dosha. There are also six tastes in Ayurveda:

  • Sweet: As in pasta, sugar, rice, starches, honey, bread, dairy, chicken, grains.

  • Pungent: As in chilies, cayenne, ginger, onions, garlic, mustard, salsa cloves, black pepper.

  • Sour: As in berries, pickled foods, alcohol, citrus, tomatoes.

  • Astringent: As in herbal tea, cauliflower, dried beans, apples, pomegranates, and lentils.

  • Salty: As in meats, salted, salt, sauce fish, soy.

  • Bitter: As in green and yellow vegetables, leafy vegetables, kale, celery, broccoli, beets, sprouts.

Depending on your dosha, you should choose a given type of taste.

For example (1):

If Vata is your dominant dosha: A vata imbalance causes digestive issues, such as stomach ulcers, you may be skipping meals and experiencing unintended loss of weight. To balance vata, you should eat more salty, sour, and sweet foods. Also, avoid raw and cold foods. Include in your diet basil, cinnamon, citrus, frankincense, lavender, sage, canella, cloves, and pine.

If Pitta is your dominant dosha: A vata imbalance causes heartburns, high blood pressure, irritability, and anger, among other things. Eat bitter, sweet, and astringent tasting foods. Avoid spicy and hot foods. Include in your diet sandalwood, lavender, mint, jasmine, and fennel.

If Kapha is your dominant dosha: A hapha imbalance makes you gain weight and experience allergies, among other things. You are probably resistant and stubborn and may have a tendency to unhealthy behaviors and relationships. To balance Kapha, avoid dairy, salt, and heavy foods. Eat foods that taste bitter, astringent, and pungent. Add to your diet stimulating herbs like cloves, juniper, marjoram, and cinnamon.

What are the benefits?

Ayurvedic diet has guidelines for each dosha. They may feel a bit complex at first, but if you go through the recommendations, you will find a guiding principle: This diet encourages eating vegetables, fruits, and grains. In any case, and regardless of your type of energy, it encourages you to eat healthier.

Eating more fruits and vegetables in the Ayurvedic diet can improve your health because it includes all sorts of essential nutrients. This diet also stimulates you to minimize processed foods, which usually lack vitamins and dietary fiber.

In contrast, the Ayurvedic diet contains nutrient-rich foods and can be useful to achieve a healthy weight.

Some studies show how Ayurvedic diet can be useful for weight loss. It may also help you minimize diseases and promote wellness and good health.

The main benefits are as follows:

  • Maintenance of weight loss: The Ayurvedic diet can be helpful for weight loss. Moreover, it helps you maintain your weight. To achieve weight maintenance, the major concern is keeping your eating habits. Following the Ayurveda, diet can help you achieve that and get a toned body and better health (2).

  • Healthy hair and glowing skin: Ayurveda diet encourages you to focus more on anti-oxidant foods. It also includes proteins, herbs, and vegetables. They are all important for skin health and contain important nutrients to prevent aging (3).

  • Inflammation control: Unhealthy foods, lack of sleep, no proper diet, bad digestion, and unhealthy routines can lead to inflammation. This is the cause of neurological diseases, including cardiovascular problems, arthritis, diabetes, and pulmonary disease. Ayurveda diet features soothing foods and mindful eating practice. Together, they contribute to improves your emotional state and systemic inflammation (4).

  • Become stress-free: Practicing mindful eating and meditation can give a complete change to your life. Other aspects of Ayurveda include breathing exercises, yoga, massages, and Ayurvedic treatments with herbs. They contribute to reducing your stress if you live an Ayurvedic lifestyle. They are also helpful in fighting depression and other mental health issues (5).

  • Lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and other health parameters: Ayurvedic diet can be very useful for cardiovascular problems. It contains herbs, fruits, and vegetables with essential nutrients. Even in traditional medicine, they are often prescribed to fix blood pressure problems. Other foods may also flush out toxins, helping our body eliminate them naturally (6). 

Overall, we can see that the Ayurvedic diet draws attention to eating fresh food items. This diet can improve our health, aid in our weight loss, and encourage our intake of fruits and vegetables.

What are the drawbacks?

As with everything, the Ayurvedic diet has a few drawbacks we need to consider. First off, we need to talk about Ayurvedic practitioners with fake certifications.

There are also many products labeled as Ayurveda, but they do not follow Ayurveda principles.

So, if you choose to be guided by an Ayurvedic physician, make sure you’re in good hands. Learn about the Ayurveda diet by yourself and feel free to ask questions.

Also, if you’re following Ayurveda diet on your own, you might find these problems:

  • It is sometimes confusing: If you read and didn’t understand much the text above about doshas and tastes, you’re not alone. This diet can be difficult to follow. Not because foods aren’t tasty but due to the complexity of the system. There is not a specific list of foods we should all add to our diets. Instead, we are encouraged to find our own application. Moreover, the recommendations can change during the year and depend on the season. When you’re getting started with the Ayurvedic diet, this can feel quite challenging.

  • It sometimes feels too restrictive: Depending on your dominant dosha, you may need to cut dairy, for example. Or fermented food. And this is not only reducing your intake. This is actually cutting an entire food group from your diet. So, it may not be easy if your favorite foods are in this prohibited list. For example, if you like fried foods and they are causing an imbalance.

  • It may not be completely objective: Your dietary choices are based on dominant dosha. However, in practice, determining which is your personal approach may become a subjective matter. Doshas are based on mental and physical traits. You can’t really measure those in tests or lab studies. Actually, there is no scientific evidence about doshas and how they determine what you should eat. Thus, don’t be surprised if you encounter different opinions about your doshas from different people.

What foods to eat

In Ayurveda diet, eating the appropriate foods for your dosha can heal your body and mind (7).

As noted above, this is based on a combination of tastes. And each one boosts a given dosha. So, we’re going to give you what foods to eat based on your dominant dosha:


  • High-protein foods: Especially egg whites and tofu. You can eat small amounts of poultry, too.

  • Milk and dairy: Including whole milk, butter, and ghee.

  • Fresh fruits: Sweet fruits are the most important in this category, including bananas, pineapples, and mangoes. You can also eat pear, orange, and melon.

  • Fresh vegetables: Especially if they are bitter or sweet, as in sweet potatoes and carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, cucumber, celery, leafy greens, zucchini, and Brussels sprouts.

  • Legumes and grains: You can eat most beans, including black beans, kidney beans, mung beans, lentils, and chickpeas. Also, grains such as oats, wheat, and barley.

  • Nuts and seeds: Eat only in small amounts. You can choose between flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds.

  • Spices and herbs: Spice your foods with cilantro, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, and dill.


  • High-protein foods: Especially seafood due to its healthy fat content, and tofu. You can eat small amounts of poultry, too.

  • Milk and dairy: Including whole milk, butter, and ghee. In this group, you are also encouraged to eat cheese.

  • Fresh fruits: Sweet fruits are the most important in this category, including bananas, mangoes, and strawberries. You can also eat blueberries, grapefruit, plums, and peaches.

  • Fresh vegetables: Especially if they are bitter or sweet, as in sweet potatoes and carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, cucumber, celery, leafy greens, zucchini, and Brussels sprouts.

  • Legumes and grains: The best legumes in this group are mung beans, lentils, and chickpeas. Also, grains such as oats and cooked rice.

  • Nuts and seeds: You can eat almost any category, including walnuts, almonds, pistachios, flaxseed, chia seed, and sunflower seed.

  • Spices and herbs: Spice your foods with cumin, basil, oregano, black pepper, thyme, cloves, ginger, and cardamom.


  • High-protein foods: Especially egg whites and seafood. You can eat small amounts of poultry, too.

  • Milk and dairy: Including skimmed milk, soy milk, and goat milk.

  • Fresh fruits: The best fruits in this group include pear, apple, blueberry, cherry, and pomegranate. You can also eat dry fruits, such as raisins, prunes, and figs.

  • Fresh vegetables: Especially radishes, potatoes, mushrooms, onions, asparagus, okra, and leafy greens.

  • Legumes and grains: You can eat most beans, including chickpeas, lentils, black beans, and navy beans. Also include oats, corn, barley, rye, millet, and buckwheat into your diet.

  • Nuts and seeds: Eat only in small amounts. You can choose between flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds.

  • Spices and herbs: You can choose from almost any type of spice, especially cinnamon, basil, oregano, thyme, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, and ginger.

What foods to avoid

Similarly, you should not eat certain foods depending on your Ayurvedic dosha. There’s a recommendation for all doshas, and another for each one. Similar to a vegan diet, and regardless of your dosha, you should not consume red meat.

Processed foods are also off-limits. So, a real Ayurvedic diet does not include any fizzy drinks, canned foods, convenience foods, or fast food (7).

Now, depending on your dosha, there are some fresh foods you might also want to avoid. Here’s a list for you to consider, according to your dosha:


  • High-protein foods: Avoid red meat, egg yolks, and seafood.

  • Milk and dairy: Do not eat cheese, buttermilk, and sour cream.

  • Fresh fruits: Sour fruits should be avoided, including sour cherries, apricot, and grapes. Also, avoid papaya and grapefruits.

  • Fresh vegetables: Don’t eat chili peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, onions, and beets.

  • Legumes and grains: Avoid brown rice, corn, millet, and rye.

  • Nuts and seeds: Stay away from cashews, almonds, peanuts, and pistachios. Do not eat sesame seeds and pine nuts, either.

  • Spices and herbs: Avoid spices that are not included in the white list above.


  • High-protein foods: Do not eat red meat.

  • Fresh fruits: Stay away from dried and light fruits, including raisins, pomegranate, cranberry, and pear.

  • Fresh vegetables: Don’t eat raw vegetables. Some cooked vegetables are off-limits too. For example, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage. Stay away from tomatoes, potatoes, and mushrooms, too.

  • Legumes and grains: Avoid black beans, navy beans, and kidney beans. Also, do not include in your diet rye, corn, millet, quinoa, barley, and buckwheat.

  • Spices and herbs: Avoid astringent or bitter herbs, including parsley, coriander seed, and thyme.


  • High-protein foods: Avoid red meat, egg yolks, and shrimp.

  • Fresh fruits: Primarily avoid bananas, mangoes, coconut, and fresh figs.

  • Fresh vegetables: Don’t eat sweet potatoes, zucchini, cucumber, and tomato.

  • Legumes and grains: Avoid miso, kidney beans, soybeans. Also, do not eat rice, cooked cereals, or wheat.

  • Nuts and seeds: Stay away from cashews, pine nuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and sesame seeds.

The Ayurvedic diet is about maintaining dosha balance in the body. Thus, you need to balance the way you eat, too. Disordered eating is not an option in this diet. So, be sure to follow these advises as you undertake your new diet:

  • Eat until you feel full and avoid skipping meals

  • Try to eat at the same time each day 

  • Avoid drinking cold drinks during your meal and instead sip warm tea or hot, warm water 

  • Chew your food well before swallowing

  • Take a brief walk after a meal

When you’re eating your meal, also consider the correct moment to eat each food in a specific meal timing. According to their tastes, you’re prompted to eat in this order:

  1. Start your meals with sweet flavors, as in sweet fruits

  2. Continue eating salty and sour foods. For example, seafood (salty) and citrus fruit (sour).

  3. Finish your meal eating pungent foods (peppers, onion), astringent foods (herbal tea or green apple), and bitter foods (green leafy vegetables, kale)

As you eat, mindful eating is essential. Mindful eating involves being fully conscious of your senses, such as taste and smell.

When you keep away intrusive thoughts during your meal, you can enjoy the act of chewing, tasting, and swallowing food. This gives you a connection between your food, your senses, mind, and emotions.

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The Ayurvedic diet is a meal plan based on the principles of Ayurvedic medicine, a form of traditional medicine dating back thousands of years. According to the Ayurveda approach, we have different doshas or energy types.

Disease occurs when these energies are unbalanced. What we need to do is finding the appropriate balance. Through various food combinations, this healthy diet rebalances energy and makes us feel better.

Different tastes in each food can provide us with what we need to rebalance our doshas. But first, we need to find out our primary energy and which one is unbalanced. This is based on mental traits and specific health problems and symptoms. Then, the Ayurvedic diet has a long list of foods to eat and others to avoid depending on your dosha.

This dietary approach is interesting if you’re considering losing weight or increase your intake of fruits and raw vegetables.

It does not support processed foods and gives you plenty of options to choose from. All of the recommendations are all destined to make you healthy and eat more mindfully.


  1. Jaiswal, Y. S., & Williams, L. L. (2017). A glimpse of Ayurveda–The forgotten history and principles of Indian traditional medicine. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine, 7(1), 50-53.
  2. Sharma, S., Puri, S., Agarwal, T., & Sharma, V. (2009). Diets based on Ayurvedic constitution–potential for weight management. Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine, 15(1), 44.
  3. Nagata, C., Nakamura, K., Wada, K., Oba, S., Hayashi, M., Takeda, N., & Yasuda, K. (2010). Association of dietary fat, vegetables and antioxidant micronutrients with skin ageing in Japanese women. British journal of nutrition, 103(10), 1493-1498.
  4. Kotas, M. E., & Medzhitov, R. (2015). Homeostasis, inflammation, and disease susceptibility. Cell, 160(5), 816-827.
  5. Dalen, J., Smith, B. W., Shelley, B. M., Sloan, A. L., Leahigh, L., & Begay, D. (2010). Pilot study: Mindful Eating and Living (MEAL): weight, eating behavior, and psychological outcomes associated with a mindfulness-based intervention for people with obesity. Complementary therapies in medicine, 18(6), 260-264.
  6. Mirmiran, P., Noori, N., Zavareh, M. B., & Azizi, F. (2009). Fruit and vegetable consumption and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Metabolism, 58(4), 460-468.
  7. Payyappallimana, U., & Venkatasubramanian, P. (2016). Exploring Ayurvedic knowledge on food and health for providing innovative solutions to contemporary healthcare. Frontiers in Public Health, 4, 57.


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