Ayurveda teaches to use six tastes in food preparation. Taste immediately sends a message to the brain which then tells the body how to use food we consume. These tastes balance doshas when we know their properties.
Ayurveda Six Tastes Guide
Sweet is water and earth element, which are also kapha dosha. It increases kapha while pitta and vata dosha are pacified. Sweet taste provides comfort, strength and fortitude. Examples are heavy, nourishing foods: milk, sweet cream, nuts, butter, ghee, wheat, sweet ripe fruits, rice, honey, raw sugar, root vegetables and non-fermented dairy products.
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This taste is fire and earth elements with a small amount of water. The sour taste increases digestive fire, gives courage, clarity and aids blood circulation. It is best for vata because it is warm, heavy and moist. Both pitta and kapha dosha are aggravated by sour taste. Examples include sour fruits: lemons, limes, grapefruit, fermented dairy (yogurt, buttermilk) and other fermented food: sauerkraut, vinegar, mango powder, pomegranate seeds and tamarind.
Salty taste is water and fire elements. It helps enhance food taste, gives protection, lubrication, stability and is hydrating. Vata dosha finds balance in warm, moist and slightly heavy qualities of this taste. Both pitta and kapha dosha are increased by it. Examples; salt (rock salt), soy sauce, pickles and foods found in salt water: seafood, seaweed, kelp, etc.
Bitter taste is air and ether elements. It helps purify blood, reduce blood sugar levels and expands by helping us let go, release, detoxify, and purify. Pitta dosha benefits most although Kapha benefits from light and dry qualities. Vata dosha is easily aggravated by it. Examples of bitter taste: leafy greens, burdock root and herbs: dandelion, turmeric, fenugreek and goldenseal.
The pungent taste contains elements of fire and air. It’s best for increasing digestion and circulation, gives enthusiasm, adds spice to life and increases metabolism. It helps us convert experiences so they are useful. The warm, light and dry qualities make it best for reducing kapha while both pitta and vata are increased by it. Examples: radish, chili peppers, hot sauce and spices: black pepper, cayenne pepper, ginger, mustard, and cloves.
The astringent taste is composed of earth and air elements. It reduces bodily tissue because of its predominantly dry and cool qualities. This taste improves tissue tone and dries excess water in the body. It helps us pull it together, focus, extract the essential essence from food and life. The astringent taste reduces oiliness of pitta and moisture of kapha while increasing vata dosha. Examples: most beans, cranberries and pomegranate, turmeric, cruciferous vegetables: cauliflower, cabbage, and cilantro.
Since each individual is composed of different doshas in different degrees of balance, the easiest way to add these tastes is to determine a blend for each individual. Then, mix the blend and put in a shaker to be used at mealtimes. Use this article as a resource guide for the Ayurveda six tastes.
Yarema M.D, T., Rhoda D.A.S, D. and Chef Brannigan, J. (2006). Eat-Taste-Heal: An Ayurvedic Guidebook and Cookbook for Modern Living. Five Elements Press, Kapaa, Hawaii.
Larisa, February 2011. Spice Therapy, Six Tastes. Retrieved from: