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sugar, chilli, coffee and alcohol) and our
propensity for dullness and depression by
avoiding Ta ma sic substa nc es (especially
heavily refined and processed food, c a n ned
food a nd other drugs) .
What is Ojas?
Another very important concept in
Ayur veda is the understanding of Ojas,
the subtle essence of water in the body.
There isn’t a direct Western
tran slation for Ojas but Dr
Robert Svoboda refers to it
a s “a pattern of s ecretions in
the body” made up of
v a rious hormones ,
a nd immune factors.
factors relates to
the f unction of
Ojas described by
Ojas is a subtle
golden liquid said to
have the color of ghee,
the taste of honey and the smell of toasted
rice. Although it is per va sive throughout
the whole body/mind, it is found in greatest
concentration in the heart and adrenal
glands. In fact, Ayurveda teaches we have
just eight drops of Ojas in our heart which
sustain our life – when these run out, we die.
Ojas is c onsidered to be our potential
s ource of strength, power and the foundation
of our immune sy stem, protecting us
from both internal and external causes of
disease. It also supports us mentally. Ojas is
respon sible for integrating our body/mind
a nd is the sourc e of our creativity, patienc e,
faith and mental resilience. If we a re prone
to fatigue, regular illnesses and generally feel
a l ack of confidence in ourselve s, it is simply
a sign that our Ojas is depleted.
Ayur veda te aches that a fter eating a
meal, the digested and assimilated nutrients
from that meal go on to nourish each of our
bodily tissues. After e ach of our tissues ha s
been fed, the rema ining (and most potent)
nutrients go on to nourish Ojas. This process
is enabled by a strong, balanced digestive
fire (known as “Agni” in Sanskrit). So we
look after our Ojas by looking after our
Agni. In turn, strong Ojas helps to preser ve
There is a lot of ta lk these days
a bout “superfoods”. They’ve e ven
found their way into a Masterchef
mystery box! But what is a
superfood anyway? According to Wikipedia
it is a marketing term us ed to promote
foods with health benefits that are usua lly
high in nutrients a nd low in ca lories. Not
particularly inspiring really... so I thought I
might redefine the word from an Ayurvedic
perspective. For a food to be “super” on my
list, it needs to do two things:
1. Promote ‘Sattva’ in the Mind
2. Directly nourish ‘Ojas’
These t wo terms probably don’t mean
anything to you so let me explain...
What is Sattva?
A very important concept in Ayur veda is
the understanding that our food ha s a direct
effect on the quality of our minds. This is
explained through the idea of the three
Universal Qualities known as Sattva, Rajas
Tamas is the quality of dullness and
inertia. It is heavy a nd obstructive and when
it becomes exc es sive in the mind, create s
laziness, ignorance and depression. Rajas is
the quality of agitation and activity. A mind
predominant in Raja s is over stimulated and
desirous, c onstantly seeking gratification
outside itself. A ny satisfaction it may find
tends to be fleeting so the sea rch c ontinues...
eventua lly a R aja sic mind will exhaust itself
and fall into a Tamasic heap.
Satt va is the opposite of Tama s. It is
the quality of clarity and stillness and is
a ssociated with peace, contentment, love,
compassion and kindness. It is that elusive,
sustained kind of happiness we are all
looking for and, ac cording to Ayur veda, c a n
be cultivated skillfully, with ease.
Everything in the universe conta ins
a predominance of one or more of these
qualities, including our food. Drawing on
the Ayurvedic law of LIKE INCREASES
LIKE we ca n infuse our minds with greater
clarity, pe ac e and contentment by eating
predominantly Satt vic food. Unprocessed,
unrefined, se a sona l wholefoods a re g enera lly
more Sattvic but there are also spe cific foods
that are super Satt vic! Simultaneously, we
ca n decrea se our level of over stimulation
a nd agitation by avoiding excessively Raja sic
substances (especially fast food, refined
a nd strengthen our Agni further. However,
there are a handful of very special foods that
a ctua lly nourish Ojas directly.
The Super Eight!
So the eight Ayur vedic superfoods I have
c hosen are genuinely super. They don’t just
provide a low c alorie, dense hit of nutrients ;
they a ctua lly help to promote strength,
resilience, pea ce and contentment in the
body/mind. And the be st thing is, they
a re readily available to absolutely everyone !
Here they are...
Ghee is clarified butter, with all of the milk
solids and buttermilk removed (so it is
actually lactose-free and can be consumed
by lactose intolerant folk). Unlike most of
the other superfoods on this list, ghee is
actually easy to digest and it, in addition
to being Satt vic and nourishing to Ojas,
has the special quality of enkindling Agni,
according to Ayurveda.
2) Cow milk
Cows are considered sacred animals in
India and cow milk is highly revered in
Ayurveda as one of the most Sattvic
of foods. Buy unhomogenised,
organic or biodynamic milk
and only consume it warm,
preferably with spices like
c love s, black pepper or ginger
to improve its digestibility and
Ojas nourishing properties. If
you have difficulty with cow’s milk
don't worry, there a re seven other
superfoods on the list to choose from!
3) Basmati Rice
Basmati rice is Sattvic, nourishes Ojas and is
also light and easy to digest so even if your
Agni is weak, you should be able to digest
it with ease. It is a long grain rice
with a distinctive fragrance and
delicate flavour... quick
and easy to cook
a nd absolutely
Dates are Sattvic and very nourishing
to Ojas but are also quite rich, heavy and
difficult to digest. Just because they are
“super” doesn't mean you should e at them
by the handful! Stick to two dates a day.
Anything more and you may put a strain on
your digestive fire.
"Ojas is a subtle golden liquid
said to have the color of ghee,
the taste of honey and the
smell of toasted rice."
with Nadia Marshall
Some foods do more than provide healthy nutrients –
they promote strength, resilience, and contentment,
says Ayurvedic cook Nadia Marshall
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