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Ayurvedic Spices and Herbs: A Complete Guide

9 July 2024

For thousands of years, people have used Ayurvedic cooking to support their overall health. Although this healing system originated in India, it is gaining popularity around the world as a powerful alternative modality.

In this article, we will explore the principles behind Ayurvedic cooking, including 11 essential Ayurvedic herbs and spices. If you’re looking to incorporate Ayurvedic principles and ingredients into your product line, the food experts at Hela Spice can help.

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is an ancient healing system from India. The name is Sanskrit and translates to “science of life” or “knowledge of life” (“Ayur” means life and “Veda” means knowledge or science). This system dates back over 5,000 years.

In Ayurveda, health is a result of a balance between the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Disease occurs when there is an imbalance. Each of the three doshas is responsible for various physiological functions in the body. If one is overstimulated, it leads to specific negative health outcomes.

  • Vata is associated with movement. It is responsible for basic body functions, like breathing, circulation, heart function, and muscle movement.
  • Pitta relates to metabolism, including digestion and absorption of nutrients.
  • Kapha refers to strength and stability, so it governs functions like strength, immunity, and lubrication. It also controls muscle growth and weight.

Ayurvedic practitioners seek to restore harmony between the dishes, thereby improving overall health and preventing physical or mental health issues.

What are the principles of Ayurvedic cooking?

Ayurvedic cooking uses specific ingredients, spices, and cooking methods to maintain harmony between the doshas. However, what you eat and how it should be prepared is based on your dominant dosha.

Eating in alignment with your own unique constitution is intended to balance your energies and promote overall well-being. For example:

  • Vata individuals benefit from warm, grounding foods. Eating too soon after a meal can disrupt your Vata dosha.
  • Pitta individuals should opt for cooling, refreshing meals. They can be disrupted by eating sour or spicy foods and by missing meals.
  • Kapha individuals need light, stimulating dishes. They should not eat too many sweet foods or drink salty things.

That being said, there are certain key principles found throughout Ayurvedic cooking. Regardless of your dosha, your Ayurvedic diet should be fresh, seasonal, and easy to digest.

  • Freshness: In Ayurvedic cooking, freshness is paramount. It uses fresh, whole ingredients because these contain the most life force (prana) and provide maximum nourishment.
  • Seasonality: Seasonal ingredients align with the needs of the body. They provide the right ingredients at the right time of year while maintaining harmony between the body’s internal rhythms and nature.
  • Ayurvedic meals are easily digestible, thus ensuring optimal absorption of nutrients.

What are the health benefits of Ayurvedic cooking?

If you believe in Ayurvedic principles, then following an Ayurvedic diet is a natural choice. By eating according to your dominant constitution, you can create harmony between your doshas and prevent the imbalances that can lead to illness.

However, Ayurvedic cooking has other health benefits. This arises from Ayurveda’s emphasis on fresh, seasonal, and easy-to-digest ingredients. Consuming fresh, whole, and digestible ingredients is good for everyone’s overall health.

You can benefit from improved digestion, better nutrient absorption, and a stronger immune system. Ayurveda has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

11 Essential Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices

1. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a traditional Ayurvedic ingredient that has been used for centuries. It contains therapeutic, restorative, and rejuvenating properties. Therefore, it can improve hypothyroid function, reduce stress levels, and strengthen the immune system. It helps balance Vata and Kapha doshas.

2. Ajwain

Tiny Ajwain seeds are a source of antioxidants and minerals like potassium and magnesium. They can relieve gas and bloating, and loosen phlegm and mucus from the respiratory system. They’re best for balancing Vata and Kapha doshas. However, pregnant women should not take Ajwain.

Basil

Basil is a cooling and cleansing herb with a range of health benefits for all three doshas. These benefits include, for example, improved respiratory health, reduced inflammation, better cardiovascular health, improved digestion, and detoxification.

Cardamom

Cardamom has long been used as a natural remedy because of its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It also can improve digestion, blood pressure, and glucose intolerance. All three doshas benefit from cardamom.

Cinnamon

In Ayurveda, cinnamon is used to regulate blood sugar levels, improve circulation, and support healthy digestion. It pacifies Vata and Kapha doshas while increasing Pitta.

Coriander

Coriander seeds have a cooling effect on the body that can alleviate inflammation and soothe digestive discomfort. It’s best for balancing excess Pitta doshas.

Cumin

Cumin is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that can help with digestion and heart health. All doshas can consume cumin, although it is particularly good at pacifying Vata and Kapha doshas. Since cumin is a warming spice, it can increase heat in Pittas.

Fennel

Fennel has significant benefits for digestion. It aids in reducing gas, bloating, and overall indigestion. As a cooling spice, it balances the Pitta dosha. However, it also helps balance the other two doshas, Vata and Kapha.

Licorice root

Licorice root is detoxifying and rejuvenating. It can boost energy levels, increase vitality, aid in weight loss, and help with indigestion. In Ayurveda, it regulates the Vata dosha and eliminates excess Kapha.

Neem

Neem is a revered herb in Ayurveda. It’s a detoxifying and purifying agent that cleanses the body of toxins to improve overall health. Additionally, it’s anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antibacterial. Every dosha benefits from neem!

Turmeric

Turmeric’s reputation as a health-enhancing spice goes beyond Ayurvedic cooking. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can improve joint function, support digestion, enhance liver function, and reduce pain from arthritis.

Develop New Food Products With Ayurvedic Spices and Herbs

Hela Spice is a food product development company that crafts best-selling products and spice blends for North American companies. We specialize in high-quality ingredients, innovation, and consumer-driven food product development.

Furthermore, we help you make the most of booming food trends and established diets, like Ayurveda. Ayurvedic cooking has existed for centuries, but you don’t have to wait that long to introduce Ayurvedic products to your offerings. Hela Spice can show you how.

To learn more about food product development from Hela Spice, visit our website or contact us here.

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