During spring and summer, chances are you get your fill of big, colorful salads. Whether you’re picking up your go-to kale Caesar from Sweetgreen or tossing your own from whatever looks freshest at the farmer’s market, your salad game is on point.
Then the seasons change and you start craving heartier foods like (vegan) mac and cheese. (Right?!) If you follow the teachings of Ayurveda, this makes sense—you should eat more warming foods this time of year regardless of your dosha.
Holistic nutritionist and Doing Well founder Daphne Javitch says ancient forms of medicine follow many practices that have proven to be true on a scientific level, but she wants to set the record straight on the salad front. “I agree with a lot of Chinese and Ayurvedic principles about seasonal eating; and of course the body craves warm foods in the winter and we should eat more of them. But from a cleansing, healing perspective, there’s not a day when it’s wrong to eat raw, water-containing fruits, vegetables, and green juices.”
Here, Javitch explains why she’s so adamant that you should keep eating salad all winter long.
Why you need raw veggies year-round
While you might not crave salads as much during the colder months, Javitch says it’s important to keep eating them because they have a job to do: “Raw fruits and leafy veggies have such a powerful healing and cleansing effect on the body,” she explains, because contain a great deal of insoluble fiber. “They really work as an intentional broom, sweeping and scrubbing the colon and helping dense food move through.”
How to eat more salads while still eating the Ayurvedic way
Want to play by both rules? Javitch says one way is to incorporate cooked veggies, like steamed broccoli, cooked in-season root vegetables, and grains into your salads—these things also have a lot of insoluble fiber. There’s a reason why she doesn’t recommend giving up the raw goods all together and just cooking everything up: “Cooked vegetables are still great for you, but raw leafy greens or raw vegetables are technically living food, so they have enzymes—which is what does some of that intestinal cleansing. The more you cook, the more you cook out those enzymes.”
That said, scientific research is divided on this point. Many experts point out that your stomach acid destroys these enzymes, too, so cooking is really just a form of “pre-digestion.” Javitch herself also points out that some veggies, like tomatoes, release other benefits when cooked. It’s one reason why she recommends switching things up and not eating the same salad day after day.
Besides cooking some of your veggies, Javitch says another way to vary your salads—and maximize the health benefits—is to blend different greens together so you’re getting a wider range of nutrients. The bottom line is just because temps have cooled down doesn’t mean your fave salad is any less nutritious than it was a few weeks ago. You can still eat Ayurvedically without giving up your greens—and your gut will thank you for it.