-much gratitude to the Banyan Organic Botanicals

Fruits

Fruits that pacify kapha will generally be somewhat astringent and only mildly sweet. Dried fruits are acceptable, on occasion, but should only be enjoyed in small quantities because they are so dense and concentrated. Fruits to avoid are those that are exceptionally sweet or sour (like oranges or grapes), and any that are especially heavy, dense, or watery – like bananas, coconut, dates, melons, pineapple, or plums.

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.”

Favor Avoid
  • Apples
  • Applesauce
  • Apricots
  • Berries
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Figs (dry)
  • Grapes (red, purple, black)
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Mango
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pomegranates
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Coconut
  • Dates
  • Figs (fresh)
  • Grapes (green)
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Melons
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Rhubarb
  • Tamarin
  • Watermelon

Vegetables

Vegetables that pacify kapha will generally be pungent, bitter, and astringent. Most vegetables include some combination of these tastes, so vegetables are an important centerpiece of any effective kapha-balancing diet. Cooked vegetables are generally easier to digest than raw ones, so it’s best to have raw veggies, salads, and kapha-aggravating vegetables in small quantities and at mid-day, when digestive strength is at its peak. Raw vegetables are often more appropriate for kapha in the spring and summer seasons. The only vegetables for kapha to reduce or avoid are those that are particularly heavy, dense, oily, or watery – like avocado, cucumber, olives, and the other vegetables listed in the reduce or avoid column below.

Favor     Reduce or Avoid
  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Beet Greens
  • Beets
  • Bell Peppers
  • Bitter Melon
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Burdock Root
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chilies
  • Cilantro
  • Collard Greens
  • Corn
  • Daikon Radish
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Green Beans
  • Horseradish
  • Jerusalem Artichokes
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leafy Greens
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard Greens
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Peppers, Sweet & Hot
  • Potatoes, White
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Spinach
  • Sprouts
  • Squash, Winter
  • Tomatoes (cooked)
  • Turnips
  • Watercress
  • Wheat Grass
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
  • Olives
  • Parsnips
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash, Summer
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes (raw)
  • Zucchini

Grains

Grains that pacify kapha are light, dry, and rough. In general, grains tend to be staples in our diets because they are somewhat heavy and nourishing. But when it comes to balancing kapha, these qualities are best minimized, so reducing grain consumption overall can be a huge benefit. Avoid grains that are exceptionally heavy, moist or dense (like wheat, flours, breads, cooked oats, and pastas) as much as possible, and eat smaller quantities of appropriate grains. It often works well to supplement meals with extra vegetables or legumes, which are nutritionally rich, but also more balancing for kapha.

Favor Avoid
  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Cereal (unsweetened, cold, dry)
  • Corn
  • Couscous
  • Crackers
  • Durham Flour
  • Granola
  • Millet
  • Muesli
  • Oat Bran
  • Oats (dry)
  • Polenta
  • Quinoa
  • Rice (basmati, wild)
  • Rice Cakes
  • Rye
  • Seitan
  • Spelt
  • Sprouted Wheat Bread
  • Tapioca
  • Wheat Bran
  • Oats (cooked)
  • Pancakes
  • Pasta
  • Rice (brown, white)
  • Wheat
  • Yeasted Bread

Legumes

Legumes are generally astringent, which is one of the tastes that balances kapha. Kapha can enjoy a wide variety of legumes, but they should generally be well-cooked and well-spiced to make them more digestible. Even well-cooked tofu, tempeh, and warm, spiced soy milk are acceptable. The only beans that don’t work for kapha are simply too heavy or oily to be balancing.

Favor Avoid
  • Adzuki Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Black-Eyed Peas
  • Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
  • Lentils
  • Lima Beans
  • Mung Beans
  • Mung Dal
  • Navy Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Split Peas
  • Soy Milk
  • Soy Meats
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu (served hot)
  • Tur Dal
  • White Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Miso
  • Soy Beans
  • Soy Cheese
  • Soy Flour
  • Soy Powder
  • Soy Sauce
  • Tofu (served cold)
  • Urad Dal

Dairy

Dairy products are best minimized when trying to reduce kapha because they tend to be heavy, unctuous, and can increase mucus production. As a rule, dairy milks should be taken at least one hour before or after any other food. Ideally, milk is boiled and served hot with a pinch or turmeric or ginger – to make it more digestible and less congesting. Goat’s milk and goat’s milk products are the best option for kapha because they are lighter, but are best in moderation. Almond and rice milks are good substitutes.

Favor Avoid
  • Buttermilk
  • Cottage Cheese (ideally from skim goat’s milk)
  • Ghee
  • Goat’s Cheese (unsalted, not aged)
  • Goat’s Milk (skim)
  • Yogurt (fresh and diluted)
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Cow’s Milk
  • Frozen Yogurt
  • Ice Cream
  • Sour Cream
  • Yogurt (store bought)

Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds tend to be heavy, dense, and oily and are generally not terrifically balancing for kapha. But there are a few types of nuts and seeds that are acceptable in small quantities. When trying to balance kapha, nuts and seeds are best enjoyed only on occasion.

Favor Avoid
  • Almonds (soaked and peeled)
  • Charole Nuts
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Popcorn (without salt or butter)
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Cashews
  • Coconut
  • Filberts
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine Nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Tahini
  • Walnuts

Meat & Eggs

Kapha does best with animal foods that are light and relatively dry (like chicken or freshwater fish), as opposed to those that are heavy, oily, or especially dense (such as beef, pork, or duck). Eating less meat all around is generally beneficial. In fact, kapha can be easily pacified without any animal foods, if your diet doesn’t already include them.

Favor Avoid
  • Chicken (white)
  • Eggs
  • Fish (freshwater)
  • Rabbit
  • Shrimp
  • Turkey (white)
  • Venison
  • Beef
  • Buffalo
  • Chicken (dark)
  • Duck
  • Fish (saltwater)
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Seafood
  • Tuna Fish
  • Turkey (dark)

Oils

Most oils are a bit heavy and, well, oily for kapha. However, in very small quantities, the oils in the favor column are acceptable, if they are of good quality. Because toxins tend to concentrate in fats, buying organic oils may be more important than buying organic fruits and vegetables. When trying to balance kapha, you can minimize reliance on oil by sautéing foods in water instead of oil or by simply steaming them. For those occasions when a tad of oil is needed, the best oils for kapha are corn oil, sunflower oil or ghee.

Favor Avoid  
  • Avocado Oil
  • Apricot Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Primrose Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Soy Oil
  • Walnut Oil

Sweeteners

As the sweet taste is not particularly supportive to kapha, most sweeteners are better avoided. Honey on the other hand – which is dry, light, and heating – is the one exception, when used in small quantities. Honey also scrapes toxins and fat from the tissues, so it benefits kapha on multiple levels. However, heating or cooking with honey creates toxins, so only raw and unprocessed honey should be used. Foods and drinks that contain refined sugars or corn syrup can be especially detrimental and should be avoided as much as possible.

Favor Avoid
  • Fruit Juice Concentrates
  • Honey (raw and unprocessed)
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Barley Malt
  • Date Sugar
  • Fructose
  • Honey (cooked, heated or processed)
  • Jaggary
  • Maple Syrup
  • Molasses
  • Rice Syrup
  • Sucanat
  • Turbinado
  • White Sugar

Spices

Most spices are wonderful for kapha, so feel free to experiment with a wide variety of new and exotic spices. Kapha is the only dosha that can usually handle fiery hot foods. Even if those don’t suit you, a variety of mild spices will help to strengthen the digestive fire and can improve overall metabolism. In particular, the pungent and digestive qualities of onions, garlic, ginger, black pepper, chili pepper, and cayenne pepper benefit kapha.

Favor Avoid