Āyurveda stresses the importance of eating seasonally in order to keep our bodies in tune with natures rhythms and optimise health.
In contemporary Western society, we outsource much of our food from abroad. With items being shipped, frozen, packaged, etc. we often have little or no real knowledge of how our food has reached the supermarket shelves; how it was produced, or even how old it is by the time we consume it.
Prāna is one of the vital life forces of āyurveda. This subtle energy is the source of life and vitality. Often identified with the breath, prāna is essential for survival. It enters into our body at birth, and its departure is at the moment of death. Prāna strings together body, mind, and soul. Food and breath are the primary sources of prāna. The lungs absorb the essence found in the air, whilst the colon absorbs prāna from well digested foods. When food is freshly produced, predominantly plant based, and organic, it contains high levels of prāna that supports our body/mind system. However, once food becomes processed, frozen, overcooked, or stale, it loses the potency of its prāna and therefore does not contain as many health giving elements (sometimes it can even be detrimental to health).
Another reason that eating seasonally is so important to health is due to the material elements and qualities. Our bodies and minds, as well as everything in the world around us, are built from combinations of the five elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth). Therefore, we each consist of various qualities that can be exacerbated or diminished by changes in the environment. For example, if you naturally run to being cold and dry, when the season changes and the weather also becomes cold and dry, your constitution may become aggravated and you may notice symptoms associated with these qualities. Therefore, in order to pacify this imbalance, we should eat foods containing the opposite qualities (in this case, warm and moist foods). Āyurveda operates under the belief that like-increases-like, and opposite-decreases. And luckily, nature is on our side. Seasonally grown foods will almost always contain the qualities that are in opposition, and therefore pacify, the seasonal characteristics. Cooling foods are produced in hot climates. Warming, grounding foods are produced in the colder months.
There are so many diet plans available today. Every month one health craze will be replaced by another. For this reason, it can be very overwhelming trying to make healthy lifestyle decisions, as most of the available information can seem contradictory. My view is that none of this is necessary. Health is much simpler than we make out. It is simply a matter of balance and maintaining harmony with natures rhythms. The main way we can keep in line with these rhythms is consume the foods available seasonally.
Seasonal Food Lists
Apple, apricot, blueberry, cherry, cranberry, lemon, lime, peach, pear, pomegranate, raspberry, strawberry
Artichoke, asparagus, beets & beet greens, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chard, chilli, collard greens, corn, dandelion greens, endive, green beans, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, peas, potato, radish, spinach, sprouts, turnip
Amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, dry oats, quinoa, rice, rye, seitan, tapioca
Aduki beans, bean sprouts, black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, lima beans, lentils, miso, mung beans, navy beans, pinto beans, tempeh, tur dahl, white beans
Dairy (in moderation):
Cottage cheese, goats milk, yoghurt
Oils (in small quantity):
Corn oil, flaxseed oil, ghee, mustard oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil
Honey, maple syrup, molasses
Apple, avocado, berries, cherries, coconut, cranberries, grapes, limes, mangoes, melons, pears, pineapples, plums, pomegranates, prunes
Artichokes, asparagus, beet greens, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, collard greens, courgette, cucumbers, green beans, kale, lettuce, okra, potatoes, watercress
Barley, basmati rice, wheat
Adzuki beans, black beans, chickpeas, mung beans, soy beans, split peas
Coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil
Basil, cardamom, coriander (seed and fresh), dill, fennel, mint, parsley
Maple syrup, unrefined cane sugar
Cooked apples, avocados, bananas, dates, figs, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, limes, mangoes, oranges, papayas, prunes (soaked), raisons (soaked), tangerines
Beets, carrots, chillies, garlic, okra, onions, pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes
Amaranth, basmati rice, brown rice, oats, quinoa, wheat
Kidney beans, miso, mung beans, tur dal, urad dal
All nuts and seeds
Butter, buttermilk, cheese, cream, ghee, kefir, warm milk, sour cream, yoghurt
Almond oil, ghee, olive oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil
Honey, jaggary, maple syrup, molasses, rice syrup, raw sugar
Allspice, anise, asafoetida, basil, bay, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, saffron, turmeric
Apples (cooked), apricots, bananas, berries, cantaloupe, cherries, dates, figs, grapefruit, lemons, limes, mangoes, oranges, papaya, peaches, soaked prunes, tangerines
Asparagus, aubergine, beets, Brussel sprouts, carrots, chillies, corn, garlic, green beans, greens (cooked), mushrooms, leeks and onions, okra, potatoes, cooked spinach, winter squash, turnips
Amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, basmati rice, brown rice, rye, seitan, wheat
Brown and red lentils, miso, mung beans, navy beans, tempeh, tofu, tur dal, urad dal
Nuts and seeds:
Almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
Butter, soft cheeses, cottage cheese, warm cow’s milk, warm goat’s milk, sour cream
Almond oil, corn oil, flax seed oil, ghee, mustard oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil
Honey, jaggary, molasses