6 Simple Tastes That Relieve Your Dosha.
Taste is the very essence of what makes a meal wholesome and fulfilling. A little too much chili or a dash of salt less and your whole dinner can go for a toss!
In Ayurveda there are six essential tastes as categorized by Charaka. Each taste or Rasa has its own elemental composition and unique properties that affect each dosha differently.
A sweet taste is dominated by the elements of earth and water. These elements are characteristically foods with a sweet taste are unctuous, cooling and heavy. Sweet calms Vata and Pitta but aggravates Kapha. It is good for hair, skin and throat and increases strength and vitality.
In Excess: Causes obesity, lethargy, lack of appetite, cough, cold and asthma, conjunctivitis, and diabetes.
Foods High in Sweet: Sugar and sugary foods, milk, sweet fruits, rice, wheat, licorice, asparagus, almonds.
Predominantly composed of earth and fire elements, sour tastes will feel light, hot and oily. While it is calming for Vata, it aggravates both Kapha and Pitta. When taken in moderation it kindles the digestive fire. Sour taste strengthens the heart, aids to pass accumulated gases in intestines, aids digestion and stimulates salivation.
In Excess: Causes sensitive teeth, involuntary closure of eyelids, hyperacidity, heartburn, skin diseases like boils, eczema and dermatitis.
Foods High in Sour: Citrus fruits, tamarind, raw mango, vinegar, sour cream, grapes, lemon, etc.
A salty taste like sour is composed of water and fire elements and are usually a bit heavy, unctuous and hot. It calms Vata and aggravates Pitta and Kapha. It dominates the other 5 tastes and is the reason why food is more palatable!
In Excess: Causes wrinkling, premature greying of hair, hair fall, excessive thirst, acidity, hypertension, herpetiform eruptions, gout and skin diseases.
Foods High in Salt: Rock salt, common salt, tofu, kelp.
A pungent taste is dominated by Fire and Air elements. It has properties of lightness, heat and dryness. Pungent tastes aggravate Vata and Pitta and calm Kapha. In moderation it aids circulation, clears blockages, helps sense organs perceive better and relieves severe flatulence!
In Excess: It can deplete and destroy the reproductive tissue causing ovulation failure, low sperm count and sexual debility. It also causes vertigo, fainting episodes, thirst, burning, giddiness and nausea.
Foods High in Pungent Tastes: Peppers, ginger, onion, garlic, mustard, rye and asafoetida.
Dominated by the elements of air and space, a bitter taste is typically dry, cold and light by nature. It calms Pitta and Kapha but is very bad for Vata. While a bitter taste can be absolutely disgusting, it also has some amazing cures! Bitter is good for removing toxins, banishing skin diseases, bringing down fever and cutting down on excessive fat.
In Excess: It will produce dryness in the body, cause emaciation and weaken the heart.
Foods High in Bitterness: Bitter gourd, bitter melon, Neem, turmeric, Fenugreek seeds, aloe vera and coffee.
Astringent taste is dominated by the air and earth elements and is cool, dry and heavy. It calms Kapha and Pitta but really antagonizes Vata. Astringent is incredible for healing wounds, promoting clotting and purifying the blood.
In Excess: May cause choking, absolute constipation, severe flatulence, and darkening of complexion.
Foods High in Astringent Tastes: Unripe banana, tamarind and mango seeds, betel nut, colocasia and “Jamun”(black plum).
The best thing of all according to Ayurveda would be to use all six tastes in every meal to provide a balancing and soothing meal for each of your doshas. But even if you can’t use all three keep your diet in sync with your dosha and see the amazing changes!
Oh and if you have some dosha specific yummy meals drop me a line! I’m always curious to know how Ayurveda is used in our daily lives and what better way than with the joy of food right?