Article Written By Tegan Wallis, Holistic Health Practitioner.
‘Superfood’ is a popular term at the moment that described foods – usually plant based, that are extremely high and concentrated in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, low in calories and have the claims of slowing down the ageing process, lift depression, boost our physical ability and even our intelligence. Think blueberries, broccoli, goji berries, bee pollen etc. It is actually an unscientific marketing term used to sell the next craze of health supplements, even though these foods are actually great for the body.
According to Ayurveda, all foods have an extremely potent healing effect and can be used as medicine if appropriate for your Dosha (Unique mind/ Body Type), and consumed in conjunction with a balanced diet. So of course eating a wholefood diet of mostly plants, grains, nuts and seeds will prevent disease and enhance longevity.
But there are few stand out key foods in Ayurveda that exert an extra special effect which we can call Ayurvedic ‘Superfoods’.
Superfoods in that they are not only high in vitamins, minerals, etc., but have the following important effects on the mind and body, which Ayurvedic considers pillars of health:
1- They nourish Ojas – Our inner vitality and immune system. Ojas is a subtle substance in the body that is the basis for our immune, energy and enthusiasm for life.
2 – They are beneficial Agni – Our digestive system. A well-functioning digestive system is a key to health. It ensures optimal breakdown, assimilation and utilisation of food to create healthy tissue and bodily functions. It also avoids the formation of undigested food mass (called AMA or toxins), that is the breeding ground for all disease.
3- They support peace and tranquil quality of the mind (Called Sattva). Foods should awaken the natural intelligence of the mind, promote peace, enhance consciousness, happiness and compassion, and not promote aggression, desires, dullness and ignorance.
These following food have all these benefits plus much more.
Ghee, also known as clarified butter, is prepared by heating butter to remove water content through evaporation and filtering out the milk solids, resulting in a golden medicinal liquid.
Ayurveda has traditionally considered ghee to be the healthiest source of edible fat, and it is highly praised and revered for its healing properties. According to Ayurveda, Ghee promotes longevity and protects the body from various diseases and is famed for supporting self-awareness and intelligence. People with milk intolerance can generally consume ghee as the milk solids that contain the allergenic proteins have been removed.
Ayurveda says Ghee acts as a fuel for our digestive fire (Agni) by aiding the secretion of stomach acids and improving absorption and assimilation of nutrients. Being a fat and high in antioxidants, it promotes cellular health by enhancing nutrient absorption into the cells – especially the fat-soluble vitamins A and D.
Dates are energising, nourishing and bring vitality to mind, body and spirit. They are extremely building to the body and directly nourish and create Ojas. When a person’s Ojas is depleted they are lacking in vitality, have less resilience to physical and emotional stress, and are more likely to feel a sense of emptiness, anxiety and depression.
Dates are quite dense and nutrient filled so you only need to consume a few daily for their rejuvenating effects.
Directly builds Ojas and healthy tissue, especially the reproductive organs and the bones. Almonds are extremely high in Calcium.
Almonds (along with most nuts) are quite heavy to digest, so Ayurveda recommends soaking them overnight, removing the skin and dry roasted to make them lighter and release all the nutrients for more bio-availability.
This golden spice is highly revered for its medicinal action and holds a special place in many cultures and traditions. It is one of the best herbs for the mind in development of sattva, as well as alleviating depression. Researchers at Teheran University of Medical Services in Iran have found saffron to be effective in relieving depression just as the popular anti-depressant Prozac but without any side effects. Saffron is so potent that only a few strands per day is enough for health benefits.
Ginger is considered the elixir of life and is an entire medical chest in one humble root.
It is the best herb for stimulating Agni and the classic Ayurvedic texts say ginger should be taken before lunch and dinner daily to ensure optimal digestion and clearance of toxins.