The Top 5 Superfoods Of 2019 BCE

This post was updated on April 27th, 2019

– Amrita Sanjivana Dhanvantari Stotram

The Ayurveda superfood of all time has to be Amrita, the nectar of life, even a drop of which imparts immortality. However, I have chosen to list superfoods that keep us lesser mortals healthy. For what fun is immortality if you are Ashwathama, always in pain and longing to embrace death?

A (relatively) lesser but healthy life span is what these superfoods should be able to deliver. Ayurveda differs in the way how a superfood is defined. Today’s definition of a superfood is a list of health benefits that can barely fit in a 1000 word article. This superfood has Vitamin X which helps in these 20 ways, trace mineral Y which helps in another 10 & a list of 10 other chemicals which were never taught to us in our three years of learning Chemistry for a Bachelor’s degree. Take the example of green tea. It has 30% polyphenols, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (a catachin), 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine (caffeine), L-theanine (an amino acid), epicatechin, Vitamin K, theobromine and theophylline. If you randomly pick up any one organic chemical from the above list, say L-theanine, it will have a page full of health benefits [1] . The content that you read on Google is based on research that has been conducted on green tea. Much of this research gets commissioned by Japan and China, major producers of green tea, in an effort to increase exports. Just 3 cups of green tea a day, had for a year, has the power to kill a human being [2]. Is green tea poisonous then? Ayurveda steps in here. Too much of Ambrosia can kill, while highly diluted dosages of poison works wonders for the body. Moderation is the key. Ayurveda superfoods are defined as those food that can be taken daily (and in all seasons) and can be eaten by people of all constitutions without aggravating their dosha. Needless to say, green tea does not find a mention in the list!

1. Ghee or Clarified Butter

Modern science may brand it as an artery clogger, but it’s actually the Number One superfood in Ayurveda. It refers to the ghee made from A2 milk of cows with a single color. Here’s what Ayurveda has to say about ghee:

If you are ill, don’t rush to the vaidya (doctor). The vaidya can demoralize a perfectly healthy person and make her sick. For a week, include ghee in every meal you have. If you still don’t feel well at the end of the week, you are actually sick & need to visit a vaidya!

Ghee suits all three doshas and can be had in all seasons. It works as a medicine for almost any ailment and does not lose its potency even when stored for a 100 years. In fact, the older the ghee, the better its medicinal powers. Every Superman has his krypton.

Krypton: Superfood ghee has 2 of them, water & bell metal (kansa). Ghee that has come in contact with water or stored in a kansa vessel turns bad in 10 days time.

2. Water

Second in the list of elixirs is the all pervading water.  Actually, not so all pervading. Regular water is not a superfood, rain water is. Here’s one of the rare instances in which modern science and Ayurveda agree on atleast one aspect, although science has not specifically found out the powers of rain water yet. Starting your day with Ushapan is recommended, which involves drinking 1-2 glasses first thing in the morning (before rinsing your mouth) which has been kept overnight in a copper vessel.

Krypton: Charaka Samahita poses a simple but profound question; “is the ‘fire’ in digestive fire the same as normal fire?” The next line answers in affirmative.  What happens when you pour water over fire? Yes, the water you drink douses the पाचक अग्नि and your body is not able to digest food. How much water should you drink in a day? Ayurveda’s answer is drink when you feel thirsty. The only exceptions are not to drink water half an hour before a meal and 1.5 hrs after a meal, even if you are thirsty. Ushapan? Reduce the quantity of water you drink in the morning if you are having your breakfast within half an hour. Ideally, have breakfast only after an hour.

3. Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk refers to full fat A2 cow milk. Know someone who is lactose intolerant? Give them a full glass of warm A2 milk. If they develop allergic symptoms, the milk is not the real deal (seriously, there’s no other easy way to do it at home). The best time to have it is in the night. Benefits of A2 cow milk? Again, if you do a Google search for it’s benefits, you will come across strange names of chemicals such as beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7), a type of beta-casein protein. Unfortunately, science has not been able to authoritatively state whether A2 milk is better than A1 milk & research findings keep fluctuating just like for other food items like chocolate or coffee [3] Ayurveda has no such issues, elevating it as a superfood that should be had every night. Although Mahatma Gandhi preferred goat milk over cow milk, having a warm glass of milk is beneficial for all the three doshas (including kapha).

Krypton: Ayurveda has a long list of foods that cannot be mixed together and milk takes the pole position. Love your banana milk shake? Well, milk should not be had with bananas, cherries & melons. Mango milk shake? Well, taste the mango first and make the shake only if the mango is sweet. Love dipping bread in your milk or tea? Bad idea.  Milk tea? Dumb idea. Milk is heavy to digest and should be had as it is. Start with half a cup if you had never had it before and increase the quantity gradually.

4. Amla

The king among fruits, Amalaki can be had in all seasons and has 5 of the 6 tastes in Ayurveda, missing out only on the salty taste. Eat it as it is, or store it after it is salted and sun dried. While all other rasayanas require a visit to the vaidya for prescribing the exact dosage, what to mix it in and the best time to have it, Amla is more like an OTC drug. Have a bite whenever you feel like. Although it primarily nourishes the mamsa dhatu (muscle tissues), it is benificial for all the seven dhatus. Charaka gives pomegranate the consolation prize among fruits.

Krypton: There are numerous ayurvedic amla juice and amla candy products in the market. Some of the popular amla murabba products and even recipes on the net [6] have a 1:1 ratio by weight of amla & processed sugar. If raw or sun dried amla is not pallatable to your taste buds, skip it altogether instead of opting for juices or candies. For example, in its juice form, amla is not recommended for vata dosha. Therefore, amla juice is not an Ayurveda superfood according to our definition above.

5. Turmeric

Surprisingly, food science has more or less been neutral on this till very recently . Another tridosha balancer, Ayurveda considers turmeric to be the king among spices. Lisa Gallant lists down the properties of turmeric on the California College of Ayurveda website as anti-inflammatory, alterative, analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-allergic, anti-oxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, stimulant, and vulnerary [5] She missed out on anti-carcinogenic [4], but modern science itself has missed out on a lot of other properties that it will hopefully stumble upon in future research.

Krypton: The exact reason why I did not list down benefits of the other superfoods is that people start looking at it as a supplement and consume it as one. There are companies that have started selling turmeric in capsule form. Ayurveda, being the opposite of science, does not believe in supplements taken in isolation.  That is the very krypton of turmeric; it has to be consumed with some other food item.

Thank you very much for reading till the end. Here’s your reward – the heading of the blog is “The Top 5 Superfoods Of 2018 BCE” which is more than 4000 years ago. Don’t worry, the article is still relevant as Ayurvedic texts are unwavering in nature. The Harappa & Mohenjo Daro civilizations benefited greatly by consuming these superfoods. You can rely on these foods blindfolded.

[1] https://www.thesleepdoctor.com/2017/07/11/understanding-l-theanine-sleep-better-night-feel-relaxed-alert-day/
[2] https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/607624/Hepatitis-green-tea-drink-weight-loss-Chinese-hospitalised-brew
[3] https://theconversation.com/science-or-snake-oil-is-a2-milk-better-for-you-than-regular-cows-milk-62486
[4] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01635589209514174
[5] http://www.ayurvedacollege.com/articles/students/turmeric
[6] http://www.planetayurveda.com/library/amla-murabba-recipe

About aryap

Student of Ayurveda, Master of Raj Yoga, Reading Purnas & Upanishadas, Charaka Samhita & the History of Ancient & Medieval India to reconstruct the principles of Ayurveda. A big thanks to Dr. Manohar Gundeti for his guidance & support

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