Foods for Pitta dosha should include fresh, whole foods (both cooked and raw) that are cooling, hearty, energizing, comparatively dry, and be high in carbohydrates. One of the key ways to balance the doshas is through what we eat and drink each day, and just as importantly- how and when. Ayurveda really regards the right food and healthy digestion as being at the heart of good health.
According to the Ayurveda, we are all ruled by three different energies, or doshas, known as vata, pitta, and kapha. These doshas are governed by the elements, earth, water, air, ether, and fire. We’re all made up of a unique combination of these three forces. If you don’t know which dosha is most predominant for you, the Ayurvedic Body Type quiz is a fun and easy way to find out.
Pittas have more fire in them than other types. They have better appetites and better digestion. They can endure the cold better, as they are hotter-headed. They are naturally assertive and impatient, clever, and sharp. Since Pittas have strong and efficient digestion, they can usually eat just about everything. Most Pittas get into trouble by excessive use of too much salt, overuse of sour and spicy food, and overeating.
Foods for Pitta dosha should calm by cooling and hydrating the tissues, balancing moisture, and sustaining optimum temperature. At the same time, these foods should also promote proper digestion and elimination.
The characteristics of Pitta are oily, sharp, fiery, light, fleshy, expanding and liquid, and salty, sour, and pungent in taste. Therefore, embracing more of the qualities in food and lifestyle choices that have the opposite effect such as rough, dull, cold, heavy, static, hard, dry, bitter, astringent, and sweet helps to preserve balance or bring increased Pitta back into equilibrium.
Foods for Pitta Dosha: Qualities to Favor
Eating more cooling foods such as leafy vegetables rich in bitter taste is a beneficial way of balancing Pitta. Raw foods tend to be naturally cooling, and pitta tends to be able to handle them better than the other doshas, so mixing in a variety of raw fruits and vegetables will commonly be supportive—particularly in the hotter months. On the other hand, it is best to reduce your exposure to fiery hot dishes, foods with a distinctly warming energy, alcohol, and caffeine; all of these influences will naturally increase internal heat.
Dense and Grounding
It’s better to think in terms of grounding pitta’s lightness (and heat) with nutrition—eating foods that offer solid, stabilizing sources of energy and enough nourishment. Look for “heavy” foods that give substance and sustained nourishment. Usually, these foods will naturally taste sweet. Most grains, milk, root vegetables, seeds, and cooling oils are good examples. They have the grounding and stabilizing qualities. But excess pitta can cause a sharp and sometimes insatiable appetite, so it’s equally important not to overeat.
Pitta’s liquid nature and a tendency toward excess oil make drying or astringent foods like beans, potatoes, oats, pasta, popcorn, and most vegetables very supportive. Pitta types are urged to choose drier foods over moist or oily foods. Potatoes, beans, and most vegetables are excellent options for drier foods as long as they aren’t cooked with much oil.
Avoid hot and spicy foods such as those prepared with chilies, raw onion, raw garlic, mustard, and cayenne. Choose the milder spices such as fresh ginger, fennel, coriander, turmeric, and small amounts of black pepper. Sharp flavors like pineapple, pickles, vinegar, and sharp aged cheeses are better replaced with milder, gentler tastes, like those found in apples, cucumbers, lime juice, and soft cheeses.
Recommended Foods for Pitta Dosha
*tip – save the image below to refer back to recommended foods.
When it comes to balancing pitta, how we eat is surprisingly important. For this reason, pitta does well to stick to a consistent eating schedule and to eat at least three square meals each day. Eating at consistent times from one day to the next also helps to balance an overactive digestive fire.
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Bean sprouts
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Leafy greens
- Sweet Potatoes
- Egg Whites
- Fish Freshwater
- Durham Flour
- Oat Bran
- Rice Cakes
- Wheat Bran
- Butter (unsalted)
- Cottage Cheese
- Cow’s Milk
- Goat’s Milk
- Goat’s Cheese
- Ice Cream
- Barley Malt
- Date Sugar
- Fruit Juice Concentrates
- Maple Syrup
- Rice Syrup
Legumes & Nuts
- Adzuki Beans
- Black Beans
- Black-Eyed Peas
- Kidney Beans
- Lima Beans
- Mung Beans
- Mung Dal
- Navy Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Split Peas
- Soy Beans
- White Beans
- Flax Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
- Coconut Oil
- Flax Seed Oil
- Olive Oil
- Primrose Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Soy Oil
- Walnut Oil
- Basil (fresh)
- Black Pepper
- Ginger (fresh)
- Neem Leaves
- Orange Peel
Food list notes:
Vegetables: The only vegetables for pitta to reduce or avoid are those that are particularly spicy, heating, sharp, or sour—like garlic, green chilies, radishes, raw onion, and mustard greens.
Fruits: Fruits to avoid are those that are exceptionally heating or sour (like bananas, cranberries, and green grapes).
Meats: Meats that don’t work are those that are especially oily, salty, or heating (things like dark chicken, beef, salmon, or tuna).
Grains: When it comes to balancing pitta, avoiding grains that are heating (like buckwheat, corn, millet, brown rice, and yeasted breads) is the most important guideline.
Dairy: Dairy products tend to be grounding, nourishing, and cooling, so many of them are balancing for pitta. Those to avoid are exceptionally sour, salty, or heating.
Sweeteners: In general, naturally occurring sweet tastes are far more balancing than sugary sweets, so even the appropriate sweeteners should be used in moderation.
Legumes & Nuts: Beans that are not appropriate for pitta are those that are especially sour or oily and, not coincidentally – also heating. Nuts and seeds tend to be extremely oily and are usually heating, so most of them are not terrifically balancing for pitta.
Oil: Despite being oily in nature, pitta does well with a moderate amount of oil – as long as it is cooling.
Spices: Most spices are heating by nature and therefore have the potential to aggravate pitta. The spices to favor are only mildly heating, help to maintain a balanced digestive fire without provoking pitta, and, in some cases, are actively cooling.
Foods for Pitta Dosha: Suggested Meals
Pitta flourishes on cool, clean, juicy, high-fiber, mildly spiced foods. Breakfast is usually not to be skipped when pitta is elevated. Practicable choices are sweet, high in carbohydrates, and yet offer sustained energy. Pitta also thrives when breakfast includes cool fats and clean protein.
- A healthful fruit salad (apples, pears, red grapes, and blueberries) garnished with raisins and shredded coconut. This lighter meal will probably work better in the hotter months than in the dead of winter.
- Soft-boiled egg whites with sprouted grain toast, coconut oil, coriander, and a plate of steamed dandelion greens.
- A light breakfast can be as simple as a date and almond shake made from soaked dates, soaked and peeled almonds, and milk (or a substitute)—blended together with cardamom and a pinch of cinnamon.
Ideally, lunch is the main meal of the day, meaning it’s the largest and the most nourishing. A wide variety of appropriate grains, beans, and vegetables are great building blocks for lunch, and can be complimented with suitable meats,
- Dinner is ideally a bit smaller and lighter than lunch, but it also needs to sustain pitta’s active metabolism. A simple but nourishing meal or a slightly smaller serving of lunch can work well.
- Veggie (or turkey) burgers with sautéed mushrooms, goat cheese, lettuce, avocado, and a side of home fries.
- Red lentils made with cooling herbs like cilantro, mint, or fennel.
- Seasoned tofu and steamed collard greens over wild rice.
This list is meant to help you deepen your understanding and begin to see eating patterns—not to create a sense of restriction or deprivation.
If food lists tend to have that effect on you, do your best to internalize the qualitative guidelines above. Prioritize eating regularly and embrace a mindful approach to eating. That is as good a starting place as any.