Food Combining in Ayurveda + a Look at Cacao and its Compatibility with Milk

Two great topics being raised here: viruddha ahara (the Ayurvedic term for incompatible food combinations) and cacao! 

Ayurveda knows good digestion is the key to health, so knowing what foods our gut can take simultaneously is paramount.  

Cacao is a beautiful adaptogen, praised for its mood enhancing capacities, aphrodisiac abilities, and deliciousness, this bean is packed with minerals and supportive qualities for us humans.

To answer your question quickly: cacao and milk are fine together, they are not viruddha ahara, but as both milk and cacao are quite heavy... there could be better things to drink it with if your don't want to feel too lethargic. Read on for more info and details...

Incompatible Eating in Ayurveda / Viruddha Ahara

Viruddha ahara is the Ayurvedic / Sanskrit term for ‘incompatible foods / eating habits’. Ayurveda says that certain food stuffs cannot be combined unless you want indigestion. The wrong combining then spirals into improper formation of tissue, toxicity circulating the channels, and eventually to disease.

It is about how the qualities of the foods, and whether these qualities have the ability to mix and metabolise at the same time. Think about how difficult it is to mix oil and water. The time we eat certain foods, as well as the season, the amount, the qualities according to our digestive power, all play a part in viruddha ahara.

Examples of viruddha ahara, DO NOT MIX: 

  • Fruit and diary
  • Fish and dairy
  • Eggs and legumes
  • Cheese and legumes
  • Eggs and dairy
  • Eggs and meat or fish
  • Melons should not be eaten with anything else...
  • & don't eat curds / yoghurt at night

Medicinal Properties of Cacao

Cacao is a bean that was so prized by the Aztecs for its medicinal magical properties that they used it to trade; it then remained a legal currency in Mexico until the late 19th century!

Cacao is a wonderful heart medicine. It contains more magnesium than any other food source. Magnesium helps us relax on a cellular level, as well as regulating blood sugar levels in body. A healthy heart relies on magnesium, so cacao helps with cardiovascular health: reducing arrhythmia and hypertension.

Cacao is packed full of antioxidants, nerve protectors, skin protectors, it is said to boost the immune system and enhance one’s mood. It is also packed with phytonutrients that protect and enhance the brain.

Cacao is also therefore a stress reliever as it protects and nourishes the brain, nervous system and heart. The epicentres of our stress responses.

All in all cacao is a bit of a dream - but we have to be mindful of its source and that it is being fairly traded. 

Can Cacao be Consumed with Milk?

Yes, cacao and milk is a compatible food combination, in that it is not detrimental or stressful for the digestive system having these two foods together. I think it sounds delicious to swap a hot chocolate powder mix for cacao with a little jaggery and raw organic cow’s milk -  but please try and get A2 cow’s milk (or goat’s milk, see here for more on the subject of why we need to eat A2 milk and dairy products). 

The only concern is that this combination will be heavy on the system, as well as being relaxing / sleep inducing. So if you want to avoid lethargy, you could try combining it with other things. 

Cacao gets on very well with coconut, cinnamon, reishi mushroom, vanilla and mucuna.

So what about playing around a bit with some of these flavours in place of the cow’s milk, to add to its uplifting qualities?

One of my personal favourites is: cacao powder, organic coconut milk (pure and organic with no added sugar), a little cardamom and some rose water (to boost its heart-supporting properties).

Love Selina 


By Selina Van Orden 

Selina Van Orden is an Ayurvedic practitioner, for more information please visit 

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