"Tastes of Ayurveda"
The Sanskrit word for taste, 'rasa', means elixir, sap and essence. Our taste buds do more than just identify foods – they provide the road map to nourishment.
There are six tastes in Ayurveda which determine the energetics and healing properties of herbs, foods and even minerals.
Each dosha is reduced by three tastes and increased by the remaining three. It is important to incorporate all tastes in your diet as they feed our body, mind and spirit in unique ways.
Do you want to know the key to reducing those crazy cravings?! Include ALL six tastes in your diet, preferably in every meal.
Psst. I’ll let you in on a little Ayurvedic secret. JK, there are no secrets in Ayurveda. It is well known that Triphala reduces cravings and improves satiety. How? It possesses five of the six tastes. The only one missing is salty, which is the most readily available in our modern Australian diet.
So how do the tastes relate to the doshas? Let’s recap Ayurveda 101.
Vata // Ether + Air
Pitta // Fire + Water
Kapha // Water + Earth
In general sweet, sour and salty tastes balance Vata, pungent, bitter and astringent tastes balance Kapha, and sweet, bitter and astringent tastes balance Pitta.
To understand it more deeply, we need to break it down to the elemental level.
|balances||increases (can imbalance)|
|sweet||water + earth||pitta + vata||kapha|
|sour||earth + fire||vata||pitta + kapha|
|salty||water + fire||vata||pitta + kapha|
|pungent||air + fire||kapha||pitta + vata|
|bitter||air + ether||kapha + pitta||vata|
|astringent||earth + air||kapha + pitta||vata|
Working out who balances who can be confusing, especially in table form. If your brain is anything like ours, you'll prefer symbolism.
Ether // all encompassing circle
Air // ascends + spreads across the horizon (upwards arrow, horizontal line)
Fire // rises (upwards arrow)
Water // falls (downwards arrow)
Earth // downward pull + covers surface below (downwards arrow, horizontal line)
Now lets look at that all together.
This little roadmap shows what we said before. Like increases like, and opposites attract.
So the air and/or ether containing tastes increase Vata, the most provoking being the bitter taste. The tastes containing heavier elements (water and earth) balance Vata. You know Vata needs grounding.
Any taste with the fire element (salty, sour or pungent) gives Pitta the cranks. The worst of these is salty, because the elemental make up is exactly the same. Pitta needs the sweet taste as it is more fuel to occupy the flame. The bitter taste is especially nourishing to Pitta because it supports the liver, spleen and blood purification. These are the sites that Pitta naturally dominates.
Finally we have Kapha, sitting in exact opposition to Vata. Kapha is increased by the heavier elements and balanced by the tastes composed of lighter elements (air, fire and ether). Kapha even benefits from an intermittent fast.
The best Ayurvedic Practitioner's know that Ayurveda is much more interested in energetic balancing than food lists and diet charts. Why? Your body changes, minute to minute, and day to day, with fluxes in your environment and emotional state. There is no fixed, so no fixed chart can possibly apply.
Want more why? It is not just about the food that you eat. It is about how you prepare it, pair it (food combining) and the state of mind you are in when you eat it. There are many aspects of healing diets.
But we know you still love your diet charts. You can download the lists of foods that are best for each dosha here. We also have tips on the food principles of eating to balance Kapha, Pitta and Vata doshas.
Here's your breakdown to the energetics and healing properties in the six tastes of Ayurveda.
SWEET Water + Earth // V- P- K+
Anabolic: heavy, softening (lubricating), dense, stabilising, cooling
Delivers stability, energy, vitality + vigour
Promotes growth, nourishes + renews the body’s vital tissues
Increases saliva and mucosal secretions
Softens + strengthens skin, hair + voice
Fosters love + compassion
Macros (fats, protein + carbs)
Sugar, honey, dates, maple syrup
Milk + milk products (butter, ghee, yoghurt, cheese, cream)
Grains (especially wheat, rice + barley)
Meat (fish, chicken, beef, lamb – especially red meat)
Legumes (beans, lentils, soy)
Sweet fruits (banana, mango)
Cooked root vegetables (pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, carrot, beetroot)
↓ agni (metabolism), ↑ ama (obstructs microcirculation + cellular intelligence)
Causes Kapha disorders
Alters micro-ecology (parasites, bacteria + fungi/mould)
Fosters gluttony + possessiveness
SOUR Fire + Earth // V- P+ K+
Metabolic: Heating, lightening + liquidifying
Stimulates digestion, assimilation, metabolism + elimination
Energises the body + sharpens the senses
Strengthens circulation + the heart
Relieves thirst + maintains acid balance
Fosters comprehension, discernment + mental agility
Organic acids + Fermented foods
Citrus fruits (lemon, limes)
Sour milk products (yoghurt, cheese + sour cream)
Aged or fermented foods (vinegar, pickles, sauerkraut, soy sauce, aged cheeses)
Fermented beverages (kombucha, alcohol)
Causes hyperacidity, heart burn, acid indigestion + other inflammatory gastric conditions
Shrinks + excessively dries GI tract/‘tubes’
Alters pH balance in blood >> skin conditions (eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, boils)
Erodes enamel + leads to sensitive teeth
Fosters volatility, judgement, criticism + agitation
SALTY Fire + Water // V- P+ K+
Anabolic: Heating, heavy + liquefying
Breaks down + softens accumulations
Stimulates elimination (laxative) + reduces gas
Calms nervous system
Normalises blood pressure
Makes skin + tissues more supple
Fosters vibrancy, confidence, courage + enthusiasm
Electrolytes / Salts
Salt (sea salt, rock salt, pink salt)
Sea vegetables (seaweed + kelp)
Pre-packaged foods (nuts, chips, muesli bars)
Causes water retention + swelling
Increases heat + burning sensations
Worsens skin conditions (dry, rough, flaky + inflamed)
Promotes bleeding disorders
Worsens hyperacidity, heart burn, acid indigestion + other inflammatory gastric conditions
Fosters attachment + greed
PUNGENT Fire + Air // V+ P+ K-
Catabolic: Heating, drying + lightening
Stimulates digestion + circulation
Promotes clearance of excess water via sweating
Relieves muscle pain
Fosters mental sharpness, attention to detail + focus
Aromatic compounds + Mast cell activators
Nightshades (chili, capsicum, eggplant, tomato)
Onions + leeks
Spices (cayenne pepper > other peppers + ginger > cumin, caraway etc)
Induces burning, fainting, hiccups + fatigues
Creates excessive thirst
Worsens hyperacidity, heart burn, acid indigestion + other inflammatory gastric conditions, especially ulcerations
Fosters anger, violence + aggression
BITTER Air + Ether // V+ P- K- Catabolic: Lightening, cooling + drying
↑agni (metabolism), ↓ama
Stimulates appetite, detoxifies the senses (improves taste); cleanses liver, blood + improves skin
Reduces weight (fat), water retention + burning sensations
Restores micro-ecology (kills parasites, bacteria +fungi/mould)
Fosters withdrawal from attachment + introspection
Alkaloids + Glycosides
Bitter greens (spinach, kale, brussel sprouts + green cabbage)
Other green vegetables (broccoli, zucchini)
Spices (dandeloin root tea, turmeric, fenugreek)
Fruits (grapefruit, bitter melon, citrus peel, cranberries)
Beverages (cocoa, green tea, coffee)
Causes depletion + tiredness (weakness)
Causes light-headedness, dizziness + headaches
Creates blood + nervous system disorders that originate in the bone marrow (ashti)
Reduces libido + sexual potency
Fosters cynical thoughts, fanatical behaviour, aversion, isolation + loneliness
ASTRINGENT Air + Earth // V+ P- K-
Catabolic: Drying, cooling + heavy
Improves absorption + stool binding
Promotes wound healing
Scrapes accumulations from micro-channels
Fosters sense of grounding + ability to be systematic
Unripe fruits (especially bananas)
Legumes (beans, chickpeas, yellow split peas)
Spices (turmeric, goldenseal)
Causes griping sensations + spasms
Worsens blood coagulation + blood clotting disorders
Causes constipation + gas retention
Fosters rigidity, harshness, fear + emotional stagnation
What are the signs of an elemental imbalance? Check our guide on learning to read the language of the doshas here.
If you think you have a gut imbalance or IBS, then we suggest you take the IBS test.
MA // Modern Ayurvedic TM
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