Vata-Balancing Foods

vata pacifying foods


Vata can be brought back into balance by eating a nourishing selection of vata-pacifying foods. Read below to find out what you can add and subtract from your Ayurvedic diet to help pacify this dosha and experience the gifts of vata in balance.

For each food group, you will find lists of the best vata-balancing foods as well as aggravating vata foods to avoid. You can use these guidelines to create healthful meals and satisfying vata recipes.

If you are not certain whether your vata is out of balance, take our free Ayurvedic dosha quiz.

Ayurveda's Top Calming Foods and Foods for Vata Dosha

Vata dosha is made up of the air and ether elements, giving it qualities that are dry, light, rough, cold, airy, and expansive in nature. When vata is out of balance in the body, it can lead to experiences such as dry or rough skin, cold hands and feet, feeling spacey or restless, and so on.

To restore balance, Ayurveda recommends eating foods with the opposite qualities, including warm cooked foods, heavy and grounding foods, healthy oils for internal lubrication, and plenty of hydration.

So before we get into specific vata food recommendations and vata spices, just keep in mind that you are striving for a diet that generally feels deeply grounding, nourishing, and satiating to your body and your being. 


Fruits that balance vata will generally be sweet and nourishing. While some raw fruit is appropriate, cooked or stewed fruits are easier to digest and offer additional warmth, moisture, and sweetness—which makes them even more beneficial for vata. Fruits to avoid are those that are exceptionally cooling, astringent (drying), or rough, which includes most dried fruit (unless it has been soaked or cooked to rehydrate).

And remember, fruits and fruit juices are best enjoyed alone—30 minutes before, and ideally at least 1 hour after, any other food. This helps to ensure optimal digestion. Note: this rule does not apply to fruits that we typically consider vegetables (avocados, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.). You will find these fruits listed among the “vegetables.”



  • Apples (cooked)
  • Applesauce
  • Apricots
  • Bananas (ripe, not green)
  • Berries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Coconut
  • Dates (fresh, cooked, or soaked)
  • Figs (fresh, cooked, or soaked)
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Mango
  • Melons
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Prunes (cooked or soaked)
  • Raisins (cooked or soaked)
  • Tamarind
  • Apples (raw)
  • Bananas (green)
  • Cranberries
  • Dates (dry)
  • Dried Fruit, in general
  • Figs (dry)
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pomegranate
  • Prunes (dry)
  • Raisins (dry)
  • Watermelon


Vegetables that pacify vata will generally be sweet, moist, and cooked. Root vegetables are especially beneficial because they grow underground, and are therefore supremely grounding and stabilizing for vata. Avoid exceptionally dry, rough, and cold vegetables, including most raw vegetables. If you must have raw veggies, a salad, or any of the vata-aggravating vegetables, keep the quantities small and eat them at mid-day, when digestive strength is at its peak. A really thorough cooking or a well-spiced, oily dressing will help to offset some of the dry, rough qualities of these foods.


Reduce or Avoid

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Beets
  • Carrots, Cooked
  • Chilies (in very small quantities)
  • Cilantro
  • Cucumber
  • Garlic
  • Green Beans
  • Green Chilies
  • Leeks
  • Mustard Greens
  • Okra
  • Olives (black)
  • Onion, Cooked
  • Parsnip
  • Peas, Cooked
  • Pumpkin
  • Rutabega
  • Spinach, Cooked
  • Squash, Summer
  • Squash, Winter
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Watercress
  • Zucchini
  • Artichokes
  • Beet Greens
  • Bell Peppers
  • Bitter Melon
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Burdock Root
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots, Raw
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chilies (in excess)
  • Corn, Fresh
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Eggplant
  • Jerusalem Artichokes
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Olives, Green
  • Onion, Raw
  • Peas, Raw
  • Peppers, Hot
  • Potatoes, White
  • Radishes
  • Spinach, Raw
  • Sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips


Grains that pacify vata are generally sweet, nourishing, easily digested, and well cooked. Mushy grains and puddings (things like oatmeal, cream of wheat and rice pudding) exemplify the smooth quality and, when sweetened and spiced, are often delicious comfort foods. Avoid grains that are exceptionally light, dry, or rough, or especially dense and heavy. It is one or more of these qualities that gives the grains in the “avoid” column below, their capacity to disturb vata.



  • Amaranth
  • Durham Flour
  • Oats, Cooked
  • Pancakes
  • Quinoa
  • Rice (all types)
  • Seitan
  • Sprouted Wheat Bread
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Cereals (cold, dry, or puffed)
  • Corn
  • Couscous
  • Crackers
  • Granola
  • Millet
  • Muesli
  • Oat Bran
  • Oats, Dry
  • Pasta, Wheat
  • Rice Cakes
  • Rye
  • Spelt
  • Tapioca
  • Wheat Bran
  • Yeasted Bread


Vata can enjoy a narrow selection of legumes, provided they are well-cooked and well-spiced. The beans that work best for vata are a little less dense, rough, and dry, than other legumes. They tend to cook relatively quickly, are easily digested, and offer a grounding, nourishing quality. Many other beans are simply too dry, rough, and hard for vata's delicate digestion.



  • Lentils, Red
  • Miso
  • Mung Beans
  • Mung Dal, Split
  • Soy Cheese
  • Soy Milk (served warm)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Soy Meats
  • Tofu (served hot)
  • Toor Dal
  • Urad Dal
  • Adzuki Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Black-Eyed Peas
  • Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
  • Kidney Beans
  • Lentils, Brown
  • Lima Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Soy Beans
  • Soy Flour
  • Soy Powder
  • Split Peas
  • Tempeh
  • White Beans


Dairy products are generally quite balancing for vata, but it's good to avoid highly processed preparations (like powdered milk), and especially cold dairy products. For example, boiled cow's milk (ideally a non-homogenized variety) spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, sweetened if desired, and served hot, is a tonic for vata, whereas cold cow's milk may be too difficult for many to digest.

As a rule, dairy milks (cow's milk, goat's milk, sheep's milk, etc.) should be taken at least one hour before or after any other food. For this reason, avoid drinking milk with meals. Many milk alternatives are also good substitutes if you don't digest dairy well.



  • Butter
  • Buttermilk
  • Cheese
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Cow's Milk
  • Almond Milk
  • Rice Milk
  • Oat Milk
  • Ghee
  • Goat's Milk
  • Ice Cream (in moderation)
  • Sour Cream (in moderation)
  • Yogurt (fresh)
  • Frozen Yogurt
  • Powdered Milk

Nuts & Seeds

In moderation, all nuts and most seeds are pacifying to vata. They are oily, nutritious, and they offer a power-packed combination of proteins and fats that's highly beneficial to vata. That said, nuts and seeds are quite heavy and should be eaten in small quantities so as not to overwhelm vata's fickle digestive capacity.



  • Almonds
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Cashews
  • Coconut
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Popcorn

Meat & Eggs

Vata does well with eggs and a variety of different meats, if you choose to eat them. That said, vata can be easily be pacified without these animal foods, if your diet doesn't already include them. If you do eat meat, the meats to favor are those that are nourishing, sweet, moist, and relatively easy to digest. Meats to avoid tend to be either too light and dry, or too heavy, for vata.



  • Beef
  • Buffalo
  • Chicken (especially dark)
  • Duck
  • Eggs
  • Fish (fresh and salt water)
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Seafood
  • Shrimp
  • Tuna Fish
  • Turkey (dark)
  • Lamb
  • Mutton
  • Pork
  • Venison
  • Turkey (white)


Because toxins tend to concentrate in fats, buying organic oils may be more important than buying organic fruits and vegetables. Most oils are beneficial for vata, provided they are high-quality oils. Sesame oil, almond oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and ghee are among the best choices. Less favorable oils are either too light and dry, too difficult to digest, or too highly processed/altered for vata.



  • Almond Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Ghee
  • Mustard Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Flax Seed Oil
  • Soy Oil


Most sweeteners are good for vata, but it's generally best to avoid large quantities of refined sugar. Favor sweeteners in their most natural state over anything highly processed. For example, if you normally sweeten a cup of spiced milk with white sugar, try tossing your milk into the blender with a few soaked dates instead. Beyond that, sweeteners with a warming energy like honey, jaggery, and molasses, are especially helpful in offsetting vata's tendency to be cold. But, honey is also quite scraping and can be depleting, if overused. When it comes to finding the specific choices that work best for you, it's often helpful to experiment with a variety of options in order to sort out your body's unique preferences.



  • Barley Malt
  • Date Sugar
  • Fructose
  • Fruit Juice Concentrates
  • Honey (raw)
  • Jaggary
  • Maple Syrup (in moderation)
  • Molasses
  • Rice Syrup
  • Sucanat
  • Turbinado
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • White Sugar
  • Honey (heated or cooked)


Most spices are wonderful for vata, provided that none of your dishes are fiery hot (due to excessive use of cayenne pepper, chili peppers, and the like). Experimenting with a wide variety of new and exotic spices is generally great for vata, and can help to kindle overall digestive strength.


Use in Moderation

  • Ajwan
  • Allspice
  • Anise
  • Basil
  • Bay Leaf
  • Black Pepper
  • Caraway
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Coriander (seeds or powder)
  • Cumin (seeds or powder)
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Ginger (fresh or dried)
  • Hing (Asafoetida)
  • Mace
  • Marjoram
  • Mint
  • Mustard Seeds
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Peppermint
  • Pippali
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Rosemary
  • Saffron
  • Salt
  • Savory
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric
  • Vanilla
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Fenugreek
  • Horseradish
  • Neem Leaves

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