Ayurveda: 6 Tastes

In Ayurveda, foods are classified into six tastes, three are cooling: sweet, astringent, bitter, and three are heating: sour, salty, pungent.

Depending on your balanced state of being (Prakruti), and your current state (Vikruti), the type of taste you should introduce into your meals are provided in the following notes as taken from a great website: (www.hoslisticonline.com)

In addition to selecting taste based on your dosha, you should also adjust your diet based on the season.  Typically, the summer season requires cooling foods, the Winter season heating foods.  Spring and Fall would vary depending on how dry or moist, hot or cold the season is.  Generally, Spring and Fall are the Detox season in Ayurvedic living.

Cooling (Earth + Water),
Decreases Vata        Decreases Pitta        Increases Kapha

Fruits with natural sugar such as peaches, sweet plums, grapes, melons, and oranges; vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets; milk, butter, and whole grains such as rice and wheat bread; herbs and spices such as basil, licorice root, red cloves, peppermint, slippery Elm and fennel. Ayurveda recommends that you avoid highly processed sweets such as candy bars and sugar, which also contain additives, food coloring, and preservatives.

Nourishing and strengthening and promotes growth of all tissues, so is good for growing children, the elderly, and the weak or injured. Increases ojas and prolongs life. Good for hair, skin and complexion, and for healing broken bones. Increases Rasa, water and ojas. Relieves thirst: Creates a burning sensation, Nourishes & soothes the body.

Promotes Kapha imbalances and disorders such as heaviness, laziness, and dullness, colds, obesity, excessive sleeping, loss of appetite, cough, diabetes, & abnormal growth of muscles.

Cooling (Air+ Earth)
Increases Vata         Decreases Pitta        Decreases Kapha

Unripe Banana, Cranberries, Pomegranate, Myrrh, Goldenseal, Turmeric, Okra, Beans, Mace, Parsley, Saffron, Basil, and Alum.

Astringent foods and herbs squeeze out water. Drying and firming, astringent taste stops diarrhea, reduces sweating, and slows or stops bleeding. (Causes constriction of blood vessels, Coagulation of blood.) Anti-inflammatory. Promotes healing. Has a sedative action, but is constipative, Is Dry, Rough, Cold.

Excess astringent is weakening and causes premature aging. Its drying effect causes constipation and retention of gas. Promotes dry mouth.

Cooling (Air + Ether)
Increases Vata         Decreases Pitta        Decreases Kapha

Dandelion Root, Holy Thistle, Yellow Dock, Rhubarb, bitter melon, greens such as Romaine lettuce, spinach, and chard, Fresh Turmeric Root, Fenugreek, Gentian Root.

Considered to be one of the most healing tastes for many kind of imbalances in the mind-body. Bitter foods and herbs are drying and cooling and create lightness. Promotes other tastes. Acts as an Antitoxic & Germicidal. Is an antidote for Fainting, Itching & Burning Sensations in the body. Relieves thirst. Good for reducing fevers. Promotes digestion. Cleansing to the blood and helps remove ama in system.

Too much bitterness can cause dehydration. It can also Increase roughness, emaciation, dryness. Reduces bone marrow & semen. Can cause dizziness & Eventual unconsciousness.

Heating (Earth + Fire)
Decreases Vata        Increases Pitta          Increases Kapha

Yogurt, vinegar, Cheese, sour cream, Green Grapes, Lemon (and other Citrus fruits), Hibiscus, Rose Hips, Tamarind, Pickles, Miso (fermented soybean paste) and in herbs such as Caraway, Coriander, and Cloves.

Creates a feeling of adventurousness. Adds deliciousness to food. Stimulates Appetite & Sharpens the mind. Strengthens the sense organs. Causes secretions & salivation. Is Light, Hot & Unctuous. Good for the heart, digestion and assimilation. Helps dispel gas.

Increases thirst, Sensitivity of teeth, Closure of eyes, Liquefaction of kapha, Toxicosis of blood, Edema, Ulceration, Heartburn & Acidity. You become weak and giddy. It also may cause itching and irritation, thirst, and blood toxicity.

Heating (Fire + Air)
Increases Vata         Increases Pitta          Decreases Kapha

Onion, Radish, Chili, Ginger, Garlic, Asafoetida, Cayenne Pepper, black pepper, mustard.

Stimulates appetite and improves digestion. Like salt and sour, pungent improves the taste of food. Gives mental clarity. Helps cure Kapha disorders such as obesity, sluggish digestion, excess water in the body. Improves circulation. Is germicidal, stops itching, facilitates sweating and elimination of ama (toxic accumulations). Keeps the mouth clean. Purifies the blood, cures skin disease, helps to eliminate blood clots, cleanses the body. Light, Hot, Unctuous.

Too much pungent taste can cause weakness, feeling of weariness, impurities, burning sensations in the body. Increases Heat, sweating, can cause a peptic ulcer, dizziness & unconsciousness.

Heating (saline) (Water + Fire)
Decreases Vata        Increases Pitta          Increases Kapha

Table salt, Sea Salt, Rock Salt, Kelp, sea weeds.

A basic unit of electricity, salt helps retain moisture in vata. Helps digestion. Acts as an Anti-spasmodic & Laxative. Promotes Salivation, Nullifies the Effect of All Other Tastes. Retains Water. Heavy. Unctuous, Hot.

Excess salt can aggravate skin conditions, weaken the system, cause wrinkling of the skin and graying and failing out of hair. It promotes inflammatory skin diseases, gout, and other Pitta disorders. Disturbs Blood, Causes fainting & heating of the body. Causes peptic ulcer, rash, pimples & hypertension.

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