Ayurveda teaches us that all six tastes should be eaten at every meal for us to feel satisfied. This also ensures that all major food groups and nutrients are represented which will help us to balance the three doshas vata, pitta & kapha.
Sweet (Madhura) decreases vata and pitta, increases kapha
Sweet taste results from the combination of Water and Earth and can be found in milk products (butter, ghee) , grains (wheat, rice), many legumes, sweet fruits (bananas, mango) and some cooked vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes). Since the sweet taste slows down digestion, it’s often suggested in Ayurveda to eat dessert first. The sweet taste also increase saliva and has beneficial effects on the skin, hair and voice.
Salty (Lavana) decreases vata, increases pitta and kapha
Salty taste is composed of Fire and Water and is found in any salt, sea vegetables, tamari, black olives, and normally in processed food. In moderation, salty taste improves the flavor of food, improves digestion, maintains mineral balance, aids in the elimination of wastes, and calms the nerves. Due to its tendency to attract water, it also improves the radiance of the skin and promotes overall growth in the body.
Sour (Amla) decreases vata, increases pitta and kapha
Sour taste is composed of Earth and Fire and is commonly found in citrus fruits (such as lemon and limes), sour milk products (yogurt, cheese, sour cream), and fermented substances (wine, vinegar, pickles, soy sauce). The sour taste stimulates appetite, saliva production, digestion, helps circulation, energizes the body and strengthens the heart.
Pungent (Katu) increases vata and pitta, decreases kapha
Pungent taste derives from the elements of Fire and Air and is the hottest of all the six tastes. It's found in certain vegetables (such as chili peppers, garlic, and onions), and in spices (like black pepper, ginger, and cayenne). The pugent taste improves the appetite, promotes sweating and detoxification, improves metabolism, and relieves muscle pain.
Bitter (Tikta) increases vata, decreases pitta and kapha
Bitter taste is composed of Air and Ether and is found in green leafy vegetables (such as spinach, kale, and green cabbage), other vegetables (zucchini and eggplant), herbs and spices (like turmeric, fenugreek, and dandelion root), coffee, tea, and certain fruits (such as grapefruits, olives, bitter melon). Bitter taste is a powerful detoxifying agent, and has antibiotic, anti-parasitic, and antiseptic qualities. It is also helpful in reducing weight, water retention, skin rashes, fever, burning sensations and nausea. Be careful to avoid the bitter taste in excess, as it’s known to create immediate coldness that can lead to depression.
Astringent (Kasaya) increases vata, decreases pitta and kapha
Astringent taste results from the combination of Air and Earth and it can be found in legumes (beans, lentils), fruits (cranberries, pomegranates, pears, dried fruit), vegetables (such as, broccoli, cauliflower), grains (quinoa), spices and herbs (turmeric, marjoram), coffee, and tea. Astringent taste will slow down digestion and you will know this taste when it makes your mouth pucker and feel dried out.
Make sure you taste life!