Plants have the most important job on the planet: they supply the earth with oxygen. Plants also have the capacity to transform light energy from the sun into chemical energy needed by other life forms. Plants can store this vital energy. This stored chemical light energy, when eaten by animals and humans in the form of plants, is used as fuel. Plants are the origin of proteins, carbohydrates and other complex molecules, all vital components necessary to human and animal life.

General qualities

Overall, vegetables are cooling, drying, lightening and cleansing to the body. They should be a substantial part of the diet for conditions of excess weight, excess heat and mucus clogged body channels. Vegetables scrape the body inside, increase urination and defecation and help clean cumulative dregs resulting of a weak digestion, inappropriate eating habits and a heavy diet.

For those who are dry, light and cold (Vata constitution), vegetables may harm the bones, eyes, blood, fertility, sense of steadiness, memory, discretion, and erode body tissues. Vata people should limit their vegetable intake and choose the more nourishing vegetables that may benefit them.

Vegetables fall into three major categories:


The leaf of a plant is the organism’s respiratory system and corresponds to our lungs. Leafy green vegetables physically affect the upper part of the body, especially the lungs, heart and throat. They help oxygenate the human body by stimulating production of hemoglobin. Leafy vegetables stimulate the mental process of imagination, openness, creativity and the freshness of life. They produce a cooling, lightening and opening up effect in the body, particularly in the upper body, and balance body density and heat, making them beneficial for conditions of excess build up causing stagnation. Bitter green leafy vegetables such as collard, kale and endive stimulate the liver and gallbladder, treat liver disorders and dissolve heavy, stagnated protein, animal fat and cholesterol.

Ground vegetables

Ground vegetables such as late summer and fall season zucchini, squashes, pumpkin, potato and sweet potato, sooth and harmonize the center of the body. They are particularly good for the pancreas, spleen and stomach. Their mild, sweet taste calms and centers the mind and promotes a sense of stability.

Root vegetables

Roots transform minerals into vegetable, drawing nourishment from the soil and sending it up towards the sky. Roots have the power to stabilize a plant, anchoring it and providing it with nourishment, as does the small intestine for the human body. Roots increase absorption and assimilation to the human digestive tract and improve our general stamina, endurance, confidence, grounding, persistence and strength, thus supplementing the human root organ – the kidneys.

There are two different kinds of roots, those that are used as vegetables and those that are used as condiments. The most popular roots eaten as vegetables are sweet ones, such as carrots, parsnips, beets and celery root. Roots that are commonly used as condiments include garlic, daikon, ginger and horseradish. These roots have a sharp flavor, which endows them with specific medicinal qualities, and they are especially helpful in clearing up congestion and excess mucus and aiding digestion of fatty, oily or fried foods.

Special vegetable families


The cruciferae family of vegetables, so named because all have flowers with four petals that resemble a crucifix, includes the subspecies brassicas: kale, cabbage, bokchoy, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, collards, watercress, land cress, turnip, rutabaga (an offshoot of the turnip), radish and horseradish.

These vegetables cleanse the liver and promote the discharge of bile. They increase dryness and movement of the digestive system and benefit the intestinal flora. They balance excess oiliness in the diet and clear mucus buildup from the body. Good for the prevention of kidney and gallbladder stones and are considered anti-cancer. They are also reputable for causing intestinal gas, which make them inappropriate for a weak, cold and dry digestive system (Irregular digestive power). The cruciferae family vegetables are goitrogenic, inhibiting the function of the thyroid gland, thus may contribute to hypothyroidism.

The nightshades

The most common nightshades plants used for food are the tomato, potato, eggplant and bell pepper. Some of the toxic substances found abundantly in these vegetables are solanine, glycoalkaloids and alkamines. The green substance on these vegetables indicates the presence of solanine, a poison which irritates the digestive lining, causing pain, and may manifest as a skin rash. These substances have been linked with kidney stones, calcium depletion, nausea, abdominal pain and swelling, breathing difficulties, and trembling. Most famous negative association of nightshades is its debated negative influence on rheumatoid arthritis. 

While mostly harmless in small amounts, consumption of nightshade requires a little thought and a lot of common sense, and should be matched for the individual’s needs.

Potatoes – have a cooling and drying effect on the body. They are supportive food for conditions of tension accompanied by excess heat. They are effective at absorbing salt and can be very helpful for reducing the sodium in tissues of people who have consumed far too much salt. For these reasons, potatoes are so popular with eating red meat, having essentially the opposite qualities. Other options for balancing the cold and dry properties of potatoes are adding butter and salt or sour cream.

Tomatoes – being sweet and sour, tomatoes have a warming and moistening effect on the body. They can help moisten and move the intestines in dry constipation conditions, and can also clear excess fat accumulations in the body and cleanse the liver from excess mucus deposits, resembling the actions of lemon.       

Eggplant – has a warming and moistening effect on the body. Its mucilaginous texture can be helpful for constipation and for moving blood stagnation of the uterus caused by cold and dry qualities. It can also help to balance fatty foods such as cheese and cream.

Bell Peppers – as they are hollow and crisp, they contribute to feelings of cold and emptiness, making them appropriate for the overweight, dense and hot conditions.


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