Many people who practice yoga favor the Sattvic diet given its roots in Ayurveda, a medicinal system that originated in India over 5,000 years ago (
Followers of the Sattvic diet primarily consume nutritious foods, including fresh produce and nuts, which is why this diet may lead to a number of health benefits. However, it’s quite restrictive, and many healthy foods are off-limits.
This article covers everything you need to know about the Sattvic diet, including its associated health benefits and potential downsides, foods to eat and avoid, and a 3-day sample menu.
Diet Review Scorecard
At Healthline, diets are scored on a scale of 1 to 5 by a dietitian. The overall score is calculated based on the performance of the diet in each subcategory.
- Overall score: 2.66
- Weight loss: 2.5
- Healthy eating: 2.75
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- Whole body health: 3
- Nutrition quality: 3
- Evidence based: 2
BOTTOM LINE: The Sattvic diet is a plant-based way of eating based on the principles of Ayurveda. Although it promotes the consumption of healthy, whole foods, it also cuts out many nutritious foods and has strict rules that may make it difficult to sustain.
The Sattvic diet is a high fiber, low fat vegetarian diet that many yoga enthusiasts follow.
In the practice of yoga, there are three types of foods that have varying qualities and health effects: sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic (2).
The word “sattvic” means “pure essence,” and sattvic foods are thought to be pure and balanced, offering feelings of calmness, happiness, and mental clarity.
Of the three types, sattvic foods are considered the most nutritious, and Sattvic diets are associated with a high intake of micronutrients. According to Ayurveda, the Sattvic diet is the best choice for promoting longevity, physical strength, and mental health (
This may be because Sattvic diets are rich in fresh, nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, sprouted whole grains, fresh fruit juices, legumes, nuts, seeds, and herbal teas (
Ayurveda recommends eating predominantly sattvic foods and avoiding rajasic and tamasic foods (
Animal proteins, fried foods, white sugar, and stimulants such as caffeine are just some of the foods that are excluded when following a Sattvic dietary pattern.
The Sattvic diet may be a good choice for people who are dedicated to following Ayurvedic principles.
It’s a plant-based diet that is more complicated and cuts out more foods than more liberal plant-based eating patterns, such as pescatarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian (a diet that includes eggs and dairy but is otherwise vegetarian), and whole-foods plant-based (WFPB) diets.
Because the Sattvic diet is based on Ayurvedic principles, people following it don’t eat many animal-based foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, and poultry. The diet also cuts a few plant foods, including garlic and onion.
All of these animal- and plant-based foods provide important nutrients (
Although the Sattvic diet is most popular among people who follow Ayurvedic principles, anyone can follow it. However, less restrictive diets may be a better choice for those who are looking to reap and sustain the health benefits of plant-based diets.
In addition, this diet may not be adequate for the nutritional needs of people who are pregnant or nursing.
Trying to “do it right” when it comes to nutrition may feel tempting, but it can backfire.
If you are preoccupied with food or your weight, feel guilt surrounding your food choices, or routinely engage in restrictive diets, consider reaching out for support. These behaviors may indicate a disordered relationship with food or an eating disorder.
Disordered eating and eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of gender identity, race, age, body size, socioeconomic status, or other identities.
They can be caused by any combination of biological, social, cultural, and environmental factors — not just by exposure to diet culture.
Feel empowered to talk with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, if you’re struggling.
You can also chat, call, or text anonymously with trained volunteers at the National Eating Disorders Association helpline for free or explore the organization’s free and low cost resources.
The Sattvic diet is rich in nutrient-dense foods and low in processed foods. For these reasons, it may offer many health benefits.
Promotes whole, nutrient-dense foods
The Sattvic diet is based on consuming whole, nutritious foods, including vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts.
Consuming these nutrient-dense foods can help promote overall health by providing your body with protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are essential for maintaining proper bodily function (
The Sattvic diet encourages eating healthy, whole foods and discourages the consumption of fried and processed foods. Research suggests that diets high in processed foods can harm overall health and significantly increase the risk of numerous diseases (
May reduce chronic disease risk
Although no research has been conducted on the Sattvic diet specifically, it’s well known that diets promoting whole, nutrient-dense foods generally reduce the overall risk of developing chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
Vegetarian dietary patterns, in particular, have been shown to offer an impressive protective effect against chronic disease development.
For example, vegetarian diets are associated with significantly lower levels of heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and high LDL (bad) cholesterol. Additionally, vegetarian dietary patterns may protect against diabetes and colorectal cancer (
What’s more, eating the foods that make up the majority of the Sattvic diet, including beans, vegetables, fruits, and nuts, may decrease your risk of chronic disease and early death from all causes (
May promote weight loss
The Sattvic diet is rich in fiber and plant foods, which may help promote weight loss.
This may be due to several factors, including the high fiber content and reduced calorie density of vegetarian diets.
Although the Sattvic diet offers many benefits, there are some drawbacks to consider.
While the Sattvic diet is rich in nutrient-dense foods, it cuts out many healthy foods.
For example, the diet encourages those following it to forgo meat, poultry, fish, and eggs — all of which are excellent sources of protein, healthy fats, and various micronutrients.
Like any other diet that cuts out entire food groups, the Sattvic diet may lead to nutrient deficiencies.
People following a strict Sattvic diet that cuts out most animal products should consult a healthcare professional to find out whether supplements — such as omega-3 fats, vitamin B12, and other nutrients concentrated in animal products — may be necessary.
Additionally, the Sattvic diet excludes foods that are considered rajasic or tamasic.
While some foods in these categories, such as high fat fried foods and added sugars, can be considered unhealthy, many of them are not.
Radishes, chili peppers, onions, and mushrooms are just some examples of exceptionally healthy foods that are off-limits on the Sattvic diet simply because they fall into the rajasic or tamasic category (
Coffee, caffeinated tea, and alcohol are also off-limits on the Sattvic diet, which may make this eating pattern difficult to follow for those who enjoy these beverages.
Although the Sattvic diet principles are based on Ayurvedic beliefs, they’re not necessarily based on scientific research. Therefore, some of the restrictions are likely unnecessary.
The calories and nutrients the Sattvic diet provides are likely inadequate for most people — especially those with increased nutrient needs, such as people who are pregnant or nursing.
When following the Sattvic diet, you must eat only approved foods and avoid foods in the rajasic and tamasic categories.
Keep in mind that recommendations regarding what foods are considered sattvic vary depending on the source, and many sources contradict one another in terms of which foods are allowed.
The following foods can be eaten liberally on the Sattvic diet (
- Land and sea vegetables: spinach, carrots, celery, potatoes, broccoli, kelp, lettuce, peas, cauliflower, etc.
- Fruits and fruit juices: apples, bananas, papaya, mangos, cherries, melons, peaches, guava, fresh fruit juices, etc.
- Sprouted grains: barley, amaranth, bulgur, barley, millet, quinoa, wild rice, etc.
- Nuts, seeds, and coconut products: walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, unsweetened coconut, flaxseed, etc.
- Fats and oils: olive oil, sesame oil, red palm oil, flax oil, ghee, etc.
- Dairy products and nondairy alternatives: high quality milk, yogurt, and cheese, such as pasture-raised products; almond milk; coconut milk; cashew milk; nut- and seed-based cheeses
- Legumes and bean products: lentils, mung beans, chickpeas, bean sprouts, tofu, etc.
- Beverages: water, fruit juice, noncaffeinated herbal tea
- Sattvic spices and herbs: coriander, basil, nutmeg, cumin, fenugreek, turmeric, ginger, etc.
- Sweeteners: honey and raw cane sugar or jaggery
When it comes to choosing between dairy products and nondairy alternatives, note that dairy products provide more protein, vitamin A, and vitamin D than alternatives.
The above foods should make up most of your intake when following the Sattvic diet. Keep in mind that there are stricter and looser variations of the diet.
The Sattvic diet discourages the consumption of foods that are considered rajasic or tamasic.
For this reason, most animal products, highly processed foods, refined sugar, and fried foods are restricted.
The following foods and ingredients should be avoided on the Sattvic diet (
- Added sugar and sweets: white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, candy, soda, etc.
- Fried foods: french fries, fried vegetables, fried pastries, etc.
- Processed foods: chips, sugary breakfast cereals, fast food, frozen dinners, microwave meals, etc.
- Refined grain products: white bread, bagels, cakes, cookies, etc.
- Meat, fish, eggs, and poultry: chicken, beef, turkey, duck, lamb, fish, shellfish, whole eggs, egg whites, animal-based products such as collagen, etc.
- Certain vegetables and fruits: onion, durian, scallions, pickles, and garlic
- Certain beverages: alcohol, sugary drinks, and caffeinated beverages like coffee
Generally, foods that are overly sour, salty, or spicy should be avoided. Additionally, stale foods, such as foods that have been left out overnight, are considered tamasic and should be avoided.
A healthy Sattvic diet should include plenty of produce, beans, and whole grains. According to most sources, high quality dairy can be consumed in moderation.
Here is a 3-day Sattvic diet-approved menu.
- Breakfast: sprouted quinoa porridge with almond milk, berries, flaxseed, and unsweetened coconut
- Lunch: chickpea and vegetable bowl with tahini dressing
- Dinner: mung bean, tofu, and wild rice stew
- Breakfast: grass-fed yogurt with berries, walnuts, and cinnamon
- Lunch: salad with fresh vegetables, tofu, lentils, and paneer cheese
- Dinner: chickpea and vegetable coconut curry
- Breakfast: oatmeal with stewed peaches and cashew butter
- Lunch: quinoa salad with sweet potatoes, bean sprouts, and kale
- Dinner: mango rice with chickpeas and coconut milk
|WFPB diet||• doesn’t cut out entire food groups|
• emphasizes whole, nutrient-dense foods
• linked to a number of health benefits
|may lead to deficiencies in certain nutrients, especially in the case of stricter versions that cut out many animal foods|
|Vegetarian diets||• plant-based but less restrictive than the Sattvic diet|
• can be tailored to your preferences and dietary needs
• may protect against chronic disease
|could lead to nutrient deficiencies if not carefully planned|
|Mediterranean diet||• health benefits backed by decades of scientific research|
• high in nutrients such as fiber and healthy fats
|based on the eating habits of people living in specific regions, which may not fit everyone’s food preferences or cultural background|
Who shouldn’t try the Sattvic diet?
The Sattvic diet is a strict eating pattern that cuts out a number of foods, so it’s not a good choice for those with tendencies toward disordered eating or folks with increased nutritional needs, such as those who are pregnant or nursing.
It’s also not a good choice for those who want to follow a more liberal diet that doesn’t involve multiple food rules.
Are eggs sattvic?
Eggs are considered tamasic. Therefore, they’re off-limits when following a Sattvic diet.
How long can you be on the Sattvic diet for?
The Sattvic diet is safe to follow long-term as long as it’s well planned and fully meets your nutrient needs. Some people who are dedicated to following Ayurvedic principles have followed the Sattvic diet for life.
However, following any strict diet that cuts out entire food groups could lead to one or more nutrient deficiencies, so it’s important to consult a healthcare professional before starting the diet.
They can help you determine whether supplements will be necessary if you decide to implement the diet.
The Sattvic diet is a vegetarian diet that is based on Ayurvedic principles and popular among yoga enthusiasts.
Those who follow a Sattvic dietary pattern avoid foods that are considered rajasic or tamasic, such as meat, eggs, refined sugar, spicy foods, and fried foods.
Although the Sattvic diet includes many healthy foods and may offer some health benefits, it’s highly restrictive and not based in science. For these reasons, it may be best to follow a less restrictive, plant-centric diet instead.
Good alternatives to the Sattvic diet
While the Sattvic diet may be a good choice for those who want to follow the principles of Ayurveda, you can reap many of the same health benefits while following less restrictive plant-centric diets such as the following:
- WFPB diet: This diet is rich in whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, fish, and healthy fats like olive oil and seeds. It’s linked to a number of health benefits, including protection from heart disease (
- Vegetarian diets: Vegetarian diets, including pescatarian and lacto-ovo vegetarian, have been tied to a number of health benefits and don’t require following strict rules like the Sattvic diet. Plus, they’re highly customizable, so you can adjust them to fit your needs.
- Mediterranean diet: This is one of the most studied diets in history. It’s associated with improved health outcomes, including weight loss and reduced heart disease risk factors. In addition, it’s more flexible than the Sattvic diet (