Gunas Chart

The Gunas

Ayurveda places great importance on how foods, environments and activities affect our minds.  According to this system there are three states of consciousness: Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas which are collectively called the Gunas.

Sattva is the mind’s natural state of purity, light, balance, harmony, clear perception and discrimination that allows for healing and deepening conscious awareness.

Rajas is the mind in excessive motion characterized by disturbance, agitation, competition, turbulence and overactivity all of which weaken discrimination.

Tamas is a state of insufficient mental activity often called inertia, dullness, darkness, and resistance.  From this cloudy vantage point, discrimination is distorted and depression and confusion arise.

The gunas are part of everything in nature, and each has its importance in our experience as well.  Tamas gives stability and structure and allows us to sleep deeply.  Rajas is the movement, doing principle in the universe which propels us into action.  Sattva allows us direct experience and is the essence of embodying clarity and light, which we call enlightenment. If most of our foods and activities promote tamas and rajas though, we are likely suffering mentally and physically and are missing out on the love, peace, and presence that cultivate a life of contentment.  Increasing sattvic foods is one easy way to move toward Whole Life Health.

Most fruits, vegetables, and grains are sattvic.   Most vegetable proteins, dairy, and spicy foods are rajasic.  Most animal products, old, or devitalized foods are tamasic. Having some rajasic or tamasic foods on occasion is not detrimental, but for those on a spiritual path, or seeking mental clarity, a diet of mostly sattvic foods is recommended.  Note that opinions vary, so all classifications of these foods will not be the same. The best guide is how you feel.

Sattvic foods include:

Adzuki beans

Almonds

Amaranth

Apples

Apricots

Artichokes

Arugula (small amounts)

Asparagus

Bananas

Barley

Basmati rice

Bean sprouts (all kinds)

Beets

Black beans

Blackberries

Black-eyed peas

Broccoli

Brussels sprouts

Buckwheat

Buttermilk (fresh)

Cabbage (red or green)

Cantaloupe

Carob

Carrots

Cashews

Cauliflower

Celery

Chard

Cherries (sweet or sour)

Chestnuts

Chinese cabbage

Coconut

Cornmeal

Cranberries

Cucumbers 

Dates (fresh)

Endive

Escarole

Fava beans

Figs (fresh or dried)

Filberts

Flowers (edible and sweet)

Fruit juices (fresh)

Ghee

Grapefruits

Grapes

Green Beans

Honeydew melon

Jerusalem artichokes

Kale

Kohlrabi

Lentils (black or tan)

Lettuce

Lima beans (small amounts)

Loganberries

Macadamia nuts

Mangoes

Maple syrup

Milk (fresh, raw, and pure)

Millet

Mung beans (whole)

Mung dal (split mung)

Mustard greens

Oats (steel cut or berries)

Oranges (sweet)

Papayas

Parsnips

Peaches

Pecans 

Pineapple (sweet)

Pine nuts

Pinto beans

Plums (sweet or sour)

Pomegranates

Prunes

Pumpkins

Quinoa

Raisins

Raspberries

Rice

Rutabaga

Sesame seeds (hulled or unhulled)

Soybeans

Soymilk (fresh)

Spinach

Strawberries

Sugar cane (raw)

Summer squash

Sunflower seeds

Sweet potatoes

Tangerines (sweet)

Teff

Turnips

Walnuts (English or black)

Watercress

Watermelon

Wheat

Wild rice

Winter squash

Yacon Yams

Yogurt (freshly made)

Zucchini

 

Rajasic foods include:

Aged Cheeses

Avocado

Cottage Cheese

Dried Dates

Eggs

Eggplant

Fermented Foods

Bottled Fruit Juices

Garbanzo Beans

Garlic

Guava

Ice Cream

Kidney Beans

Lime

Lemon

Red Lentils

Molasses

Olives

Onions (all kinds)

Peanuts

Peanut Oil

Peppers

Pickles

Potatoes

Pumpkin Seeds

Radishes

Salt (all kinds)

Sour Cream

Soy Milk*

Sugar (all kinds)

Tomatoes

Vinegar

Yogurt*

*Sattvic only if freshly homemade

 

Tamasic foods include:

Alcohol

Beef

Chicken

Fish

Fowl

Fried Foods

Frozen Foods

Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs)

Goat

Lamb

Leeks

Leftovers (over 24 hours)

Margarine

Microwaved Foods

Mushrooms (all kinds)

Pork

Processed Foods with Preservatives

Rabbit

Shellfish

Turkey

Venison

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