Beat the Heat: Eating for Pitta Season

According to Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest, holistic healing systems, summer is Pitta season. Pitta, characterized by fire and water, is often translated as “that which digest things.” Generally, individuals with Pitta constitutions have good digestion. However, in summer as dryness and heat increase, even Pitta’s digestive system becomes slower and weaker.

In order to balance summer’s heat, Ayurveda recommends favoring foods that are lighter and easy to digest, especially foods that are moist and sweet, bitter or astringent in flavor. To get you started, here’s a short guide to summer Pitta-pacifying foods:


Sweet Tastes

When we think of sweet, we naturally think of sugar or in nature, fruit. In Ayurveda, foods, such as basmati rice, bread, milk, butter and ghee, are also considered sweet. During the summer months, focus on eating more of the following sweet, juicy foods:


  • grapes, cherries, avocados, plums
  • watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melons
  • pineapple, mangoes, coconut, lime
  • beets and cooked carrots

Bitter Foods

It’s a good idea to take advantage of the wide variety of vegetables available throughout the summer. While you might favor salads made with fresh tomatoes, also include these bitter vegetables for their balancing effect on Pitta:


  • broccoli

  • asparagus

  • green beans

  • zucchini, summer squash

  • cucumber

  • leafy greens (collards, kale, dandelion)

Astringent Tastes

Astringent foods, such as bananas and artichokes, leave the tongue feeling “dry” or “puckered.” Their dryness is generally produced by tannins in the bark, leaves and outer rinds of certain fruits and trees. Astringent foods compliment foods with sweet or sour tastes and bring lightness to the mind and body. Here are some to enjoy during the summer season:


  • apples, pomegranate, banana

  • kidney beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils

  • artichoke, cauliflower, celery and most raw vegetables

  • green beans, lettuce

Herbs and Spices 

During the summer months, fresh herbs and spices are plentiful. Besides adding flavor, Ayurveda recommends adding them to foods to aide digestion and help remove accumulated ama, or toxins. Make abundant use of these easy to grow herbs in your summer meals:

Sweet: fennel, mint, basil, mint, cardamom

Bitter: cumin, dill, turmeric, cilantro

Astringent: parsley, coriander, oregano

Foods to Avoid

To help keep Pitta in balance during the hot summer months, it’s best to limit your intake of foods that create warmth or are salty, sour or spicy. Here are some to limit or stay away from altogether:


  • Alcohol (especially red wine)
  • Salty foods like pickles and soy sauce
  • Hot peppers, cayenne, hot sauce and garlic
  • Nightshades like onion, tomatoes and eggplant
  • Sour dairy products such as sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt

In addition to these foods and spices, remember to stay hydrated by choosing wet foods over dry ones. In general, opt for chilled, sweet fruit soups and moist grain and veggie salads.

And don’t forget to drink lots of water and other fluids. Try quenching your thirst with water infused with cucumber and mint, coconut water and fresh fruit juices. The reward will be good digestion and a sunny disposition all summer long. Enjoy!

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