20 Properties or Attributes of Food
Every food item contains some proportion
of the Five basic elements (Space, Air, Fire, Water & Earth), with one or more of the elements being dominant. In turn, the three Doshas and seven tissue systems also have different proportions of the five basic elements with a dominance of certain elements in each.
So, according to the Ayurvedic Principle of ‘like increases & dislike decreases’, foods having the properties as a particular DOSHA and/ or tissue systems increase those properties. And when foods have opposite properties then it results in a decrease of those properties. These ‘properties’ (or Gunas in Sanskrit) are 20 in number and are distributed amongst the five basic Elements.
AYURVEDA has a unique distinction of classifying food articles based on these 20 properties and uses food to nourish and/ or to bring about changes in the Doshas and the tissue systems.
These 20 Properties are classified in opposing pairs of 10 and are listed as:
- Heavy – Light
- Cold – Hot
- Unctuous – Dry
- Slow – Sharp
- Stable – Mobile
- Soft – Hard
- Slimy – Rough
- Viscous – Liquid
- Gross – Subtle
- Cloudy – Clear
Here are some examples of how the 20 Properties exhibit themselves in various Foods:
- Heavy – Cream, cheese, kidney beans.
- Light – Puffed rice, Popcorn.
- Cold – Mint, coconut water, water melon, rice.
- Hot – Peppers, nutmeg, turkey meat.
- Oily – Nuts, fats and oils, black lentil.
- Dry – Millet, rye, corn.
- Slow – Yogurt, red meat, condensed milk.
- Sharp – Onion, ginger, Garlic, Bell peppers, mustard greens.
- Stable – Ghee, wheat.
- Mobile – alcohol, sprouts.
- Soft – Puffed rice, Tapioca, pasta.
- Hard – Nuts, jack fruit.
- Slimy – okra, full cream yogurt.
- Rough – Most millets, broccoli, cauliflower, oats.
- Dense – Cream, potatoes.
- Liquid – all water based beverages, soups, milk.
- Gross – Roots and tubers, Dates, minerals.
- Subtle – Spices, saffron, oils
- Cloudy – Mayonnaise, butter, Sea food.
- Clear – Clarified butter milk, black eyed pea, bitters.