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Understanding the Six Tastes in Ayurveda: A Vital Key to Optimal Health

What are the Six Tastes?

In the ancient healing system of Ayurveda, understanding the significance of the six tastes is key to maintaining balance and overall well-being. Ayurveda recognizes six tastes- sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. Each taste possesses specific characteristics that influence the doshas, the elemental energies that govern our mind and body. Lavender Culinary Services now brings you this comprehensive guide to help you understand how the six tastes influence our mind-body physiology. Including all six tastes in every meal ensures that all food groups and nutrients are present, but also gives us a sense of satisfaction. Since this is probably a new way of categorizing food to some, let's review the six tastes and each of their qualities.


Sweet is the taste of energy and is made up of the elements water and earth. Sweet is the main taste in starchy foods, such as pasta, bread, milk, meat and fats. Other examples of sweet taste are more obvious to most, such as sugar, honey and molasses. Sweet foods usually give the most calories, so they bring us energy, promote satisfaction and build body mass. Overdoing it on sweet taste can make digestion sluggish.


Sour is the taste of acid and is made up of the elements earth and fire. Sour has a stimulating effect and can be found in citrus fruits, yogurt, cheese, tomatoes, pickles, fermented foods and vinegar. Sour stimulates the production of digestive enzymes, so can aid in digestion and is stimulating to the appetite. Sour taste may be irritating for those suffering from heartburn.


Salty is the taste of the ocean and is made up of the elements water and fire. Salty helps us hold onto water in the body and enhances the other tastes. Salty can be found in sauces, salted meats, fish and table salt.


Pungent is the taste found in hot peppers, ginger, garlic, mustard, radishes, cloves and many spices. It is made up of the elements air and fire. Pungent taste promotes sweating and clears sinuses (as many of you know!). Pungent foods enhance the appetite and improve digestion and encourage detoxification.


Bitter taste is found in leafy green vegetables, turmeric, bitter melon, kale, broccoli beets and celery and is made up of the elements air and space. The bitter taste promotes weight loss, but if eaten in excessive amounts may cause lightheadedness, dryness and low blood sugar.


Astringent taste is present in beans, green tea, legumes, coffee, tart apples, pomegranates and cauliflower and is made up of the elements air and earth. Astringent foods tend to be high in fiber and are drying and compacting.

Nutritional Benefits

By understanding how each of the six tastes provides important nutritional benefits that your body needs, you can make informed choices to nurture your body and mind. Stay tuned as we explain each dosha type and how the six tastes influence them! Remember to have fun with your food and experiment with different spices and ingredients to include the six tastes into your daily meals!

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