The 6 tastes in the Ayurvedic Diet

Ayurveda recognizes more qualities in food than the typical Western categorization. In Ayurveda food is classified by these main attributes:

All of these attributes are interconnected and influenced by each other but to get a better understanding of the theories, we’ll be looking at the 6 flavors only here.

Ayurveda has a unique approach to break down tastes scientifically, each having its own therapeutic effects and changing impacts on your body; from the first taste to entering the body to being absorbed. The six tastes or Rasas that are distinguished in the Ayurvedic diet are Sweet, Salty, Sour, Pungent, Astringent and Bitter. These tastes originate from the five elements and transmit their properties. For a balanced diet Ayurveda recommends getting all of these flavors with every meal and adjust the amounts of each to your personal constitution. Apart from feeling satisfied this practice also ensures that all major food groups and nutrients are present.

Overview

The following table provides an overview over the effects of the different tastes; the upper row naming the positive effects of the taste, the row below naming the effects when taste is consumed in excess. Pure forms of the tastes will aggravate your dosha more easily than complex versions and thus should be used with care; e.g. yoghurt is sour, sweet and heavy which makes it a complex taste and will less likely aggravate the Kapha Dosha than pure sugar.

Taste Physical Effect Mental Effect Source

earth, water

Sweet nourishes, builds and strengthens body tissues soothing, calming, satisfactory Carbohydrates, Protein, Fat

Grains, pasta, rice, bread, starchy vegetables, dairy, meat, chicken, fish, sugar, honey
ayurvedic sweet foods
fat diseases, obesity, diabetes lethargy, anxiety

water, fire

Salty lubricates tissues, softens, maintains mineral balance and holds water enhances appetite and other tastes, enthusiasm, calms nerves and stops anxiety Mineral salts

Table salt, soy sauce, salted meats, fish, seaweed
ayurvedic salty foods
wrinkles, thirst, loss of strength, baldness cravings, anger, impatience, lethargy

earth, fire

Sour stimulates appetite and digestion, strengthens heart, relieves thirst and satiates enhances intellectual activities Organic acids: ascorbic acid, citric acid, acetic acid

Citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, pickled foods, salad dressing, yoghurt, alcohol
ayurvedic sour foods
loss of strength, fever, thirst resentment and jealousy, anger, impatience, hot temper

fire, air

Pungent warms body and promotes sweating, improves metabolism and relieves nerve pain opens mind and senses Essential oils

Peppers, chilies, onions, garlic, cayenne, black pepper, cloves, ginger, mustard, salsa, raddish, wasabi
ayurvedic pungent foods
thirst, depletion of reproductive fluid and strength, fainting, waist/back pain irritability, anger, impatience

earth, air

Astringent cleanses blood and helps maintaining healthy blood sugar level, dries moisture and fat cools fiery minds,clears senses and emotions, removes lethargy Tannins

Lentils, dried beans, broccoli, green apples, pears, grape skins, cauliflower, cabbage, pomegranates, tea
ayurvedic astringent foods
gas or constipation, heart pain, thirst anxiety, worry, fear, insomnia

ether, air

Bitter cleanses and detoxifies, reduces fat and water excess, relieves thirst and fever, antibiotic helpful in managing food cravings, clears senses and emotions Alkaloids or glycosides

Green leafy vegetables, green and yellow vegetables, kale, celery, broccoli, sprouts, beets
ayurvedic bitter foods
gas or upset stomach, tissue depletion anxiety, fear, insomnia

Effects of the Flavors on the Doshas

o - soothing effect

x - aggravates Dosha when taken in excess

Taste Vata Pitta Kapha
Sweet o o x
Salty o x x
Sour o x x
Pungent x x o
Astringent x o o
Bitter x o o





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