In addition to the qualities, it is also important to learn more about the tastes of food. In Ayurveda there are 6 tastes: sweet, astringent, sour, salty, pungent and bitter. Just like the doshas (characteristics), each taste is composed of two elements.
For instance, the sweet taste is composed of earth and water, the sour taste of fire and water. We have already seen that each element has certain gunas: for instance, the gunas of water include heavy, cold, moist, liquid, slow. By carefully studying the elements of certain tastes and the corresponding gunas, you will quickly understand what the influence of those tastes is on your mental and physical condition.
Sweet= water + earth
Sour= water + fire
Salty= earth + fire
Pungent= fire + air
Bitter= air + ether
Astringent= air + earth
The 6 tastes in Ayurveda
The sweet taste consists of water and earth and corresponds mostly with kapha qualities. Sweet is heavy and cool. The sweet taste is highly nourishing, the most nourishing of all tastes. Sweet food nourishes our blood plasma and our tissue and ensures that we come into contact with our body, that we ground and that we can more easily enjoy life. Sweet food enhances fertility, but too much sweet food makes the body limp. Examples of sweet foods are cereals, dates and pumpkins.
The sour taste consists of water and fire. It is a taste that needs to be dosed carefully. If you use it in the wrong dose, it quickly leads to conflicts. For instance, an excess of the sour taste can result in aggression and infections in the body. The sour taste wakes people up and ensures that their thoughts and emotions become clear. Sour food stimulates and boosts digestion. Too much sour food can also make the blood sick and fertility weak. Examples of sour foods are lemon, tamarind, wine and fermented products, such as sauerkraut.
The salty taste consists of earth and fire, and is only found in minerals and not in plants. The salty taste provides solidity and structure to people, as well as grounding. It also adds taste: everything tastes better with a pinch of salt, and it will also digest more easily. However, too much salt makes the blood and the skin ill. Examples of salty foods are sea salt, Himalayan salt, rock salt…
The pungent taste consists of fire and air. Pungent food stimulates our digestion, boosts food uptake and makes sure our waste products are burnt. Pungent food ensures that we can think quickly and clearly and understand complicated matters more easily. Too much pungent food, on the other hand, makes us overly critical and stimulates haemorrhages and infections. Examples of pungent foods are spices, such as pepper and ginger.
The bitter taste consists of air and ether. It is a dehydrating taste. That is why the use of bitter foods increases strength and is very good for people with too much kapha. In addition, bitter food is also highly purifying, because, thanks to its cool qualities, it is a very good means to remove hot waste products from the body. Bitter foods also ensure mental purification, it sobers people up and frees them from their passions and sultry emotions. Too much bitter food can make people bitter. Examples of bitter foods are raw green vegetables and green tea.
The astringent taste consists of air and earth. It is dehydrating and draws together. As a result, it has a very favourable effect on people who suffer an increase of kapha, which can result in weakness and limpness. Astringent food is a perfect means to repair this kind of problem. Just like bitter food, astringent food will mentally purify and strengthen you. Astringent food draws together and helps to centre. And precisely because of these astringent qualities, astringent food is also often used with wounds. Too much astringent food can make people nihilistic. Examples of astringent foods are curcuma and green vegetables.
When your doshas are out of balance, these six tastes can help you repair this imbalance. If you are healthy, Ayurveda advises you to include each of these six tastes in your diet. These six tastes will bring you into contact with the five elements and, in turn, these elements are the components of your body and your entire nature.
Source: The Ayurveda cookbook from Lies Ameeuw
Ayurveda Kookboek (Ayurveda cookbook) and Ayurveda vanuit het hart (Ayurveda from the heart) by Lies Ameeuw.