The Six Tastes of Ayurveda

The Western approach in nutrition and diet focuses on the various food groups:

vegetables and legumes/beans, fruits, grain, lean meats/poultry, and dairy.

Alternatively, Ayurveda identifies six key “tastes” of foods. Each taste has specific effects on the three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha), so based on your body composition, you might need more or less of each taste. By including all six tastes in each meal, we prevent cravings, balance all doshas, and provide certain chemicals the body needs to function optimally.  Some foods can also have more than one taste as well.

The Western approach in nutrition and diet focuses on the various food groups:

vegetables and legumes/beans, fruits, grain, lean meats/poultry, and dairy.

Alternatively, Ayurveda identifies six key “tastes” of foods. Each taste has specific effects on the three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha), so based on your body composition, you might need more or less of each taste. By including all six tastes in each meal, we prevent cravings, balance all doshas, and provide certain chemicals the body needs to function optimally.  Some foods can also have more than one taste as well.

Sweet Taste is a taste that is commonly thought to be a satisfying, comfort food.  It is not necessarily sweet like sugar, but its quality is sweet. It provides needed energy for the body.

This increases Kapha and decreases Vata and Pitta.

Examples are nuts, sweet fruits, carrots, honey, fennel, rose, cardamom, whole grains, oils, meats, and most dairy.

Sour Taste causes the mouth to water and its qualities are heavy, moist, and hot. These foods stimulate digestion but too much can increase inflammation in the body.

This increases Pitta and Kapha and decreases Vata.

Examples are pickles, sour cream, buttermilk, tomatoes, cheese, strawberries and fermented foods such as yogurt.

Salty Taste is a taste most people crave, which is good because it is a taste that is hard to avoid.  Its qualities are heavy, moist, and hot.

This increases Pitta and Kapha and decreases Vata.

Examples are salt, sea salt, pink salt, soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, olives, and foods that have added salt.

Pungent Taste creates heat in the mouth and the body, burning fat and increasing metabolism.  Its qualities are light, dry, and hot. When we refer to something as spicy, we’re actually talking about its pungency.

This increases Pitta and Vata (in large amounts) and decreases Kapha.

Examples are chilli peppers, ginger, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, sage, radishes, and black pepper.

Astringent Taste creates dryness in the mouth.  It tones and dries out the tissues, possibly increasing gas in the body (especially for someone with a Vata imbalance) because it is dry and cool.

This increases Vata and decreases Pitta and Kapha.

Examples are most beans, white potatoes, cranberries, pomegranates, turmeric, aloe vera, grapes, basil, blueberries, astragalus, and grapes.

Bitter Taste can include many tonics that are bitter and powerfully medicinal. Its qualities are light, dry, and cool.

This increases Vata and decreases Pitta and Kapha.

Examples are leafy greens, chocolate, coffee, licorice, and herbs such as goldenseal, turmeric, and neem.

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