Ayurvedic Cooking

The Six Ayurvedic Tastes

By Angela Glaz

Ayurvedic Specialist and 500 Hour E-RYT

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In Ayurveda, rasa or taste is used as a therapeutic tool to balance body, mind, and spirit. The six tastes that are distinguished in the Ayurvedic diet are sweet, salty, sour, pungent, astringent and bitter. These tastes come from the five elements, space, air, fire, water, and earth.

Each of the six tastes and the properties of the elements associated with each is another way in which we can used the concept of, “like increases like,” to cultivate health and balance.

For example, if vata (air and space) is aggravated, preparing a meal that is more sweet (earth and water) in nature, will help pacify general symptoms associated with an aggravated vata.

Ideally, our meals should include all 6 tastes.

The Six Tastes


Sweet

Sanskrit: Madura

Elements: Earth and Water

Balances: Vata and Pitta

Aggravates: Kapha

Foods that are sweet: Wheat, rice, bananas, dates, maple syrup, mangoes, coconut, beets

 

Sour

Sanskrit: Amala

Elements: Fire and Earth

Balances: Vata

Aggravates: Kapha and PItta

Foods that are sour: lemon, tomato, vinegar, pickled foods, fermented foods

 

Salty

Sanskrit: Lavana

Elements: Water and Fire

Balances: Vata

Aggravates: Pitta and Kapha

Foods that are salty: Salt, seafood, sea vegetables

 

Pungent

Sanskrit: Katu

Elements: Fire and Air

Balances: Kapha

Aggravates: Vata and Pitta

Foods that are Pungent: Hot peppers, garlic, mustard, onions, ginger

 

Astringent

Sanskrit: Kashaya

Elements: Air and Earth

Balances: Pitta and Kapha

Aggravates: Vata

Foods that are Astringent: Unripe banana, green grapes, cranberries, alfalfa sprouts, okra

 

Bitter

Sanskrit: Tikta

Elements: Space and Air

Balances: Pitta and Kapha

Aggravates: Vata

Foods that are Bitter: Raw leafy greens, turmeric, coffee

 

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