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Ayurveda Yoga Wellness Retreats > Ayurveda  > Ayurveda Tastes

Ayurveda Tastes

We are what we eat and fresh seasonal locally grown organic foods are always they best choice. Refined, processed foods (like white flour and sugar), food additives (coloring and preservatives) and leftovers should be avoided.

The Six Tastes

Foods are classified into six tastes. It is recommended to include all six flavors in the appropriate ratio (according to the individual dosha) every day. This will balance the body, provide complete nutrition, reduce cravings and improve digestion. The six tastes are:

  • Sweet- madhura, earth + water, (cooling)
  • Sour- amla, earth + fire, (heating)
  • Salty- lavana, water + fire, (heating)
  • Pungent- tikta, fire + air, (heating)
  • Astringent- kashaya, air+ earth, (cooling)
  • Bitter- katu, air + ether, (cooling)

Sweet: Vata and Pitta balancing, Kapha increasing

Foods with sweet taste: milk, cream, ghee, whole grains such as wheat and rice, honey, ripe fruits, vegetables such as carrots, beets and sweet potatoes, spices such as basil, licorice and fennel.

Effect of sweet taste: comforting, pleasurable, nourishes the tissues, increases ojas (energy) and enhances mood. In excess, sweet creates imbalances such as obesity, diabetes and depression (Kapha).

Sour: Vata balancing, Pitta and Kapha increasing

Foods with sour taste: yogurt, sour cream, vinegar, citrus fruits, mango, tamarind, pickles, fermented foods, spices such as caraway and coriander.

Effect of sour taste: stimulates appetite, promotes salivation, increases digestion/assimilation, maintains acid balance and cleanses the tissues. It also sharpens the mind, strengthens the sense organs and the heart. In excess it increases imbalances such as heartburn, acidity, ulcers, irritation, itchiness, blood toxicity (Pitta) and edema (Kapha).

Salty: Vata balancing, Pitta and Kapha increasing

Foods with salty taste: salt, rock salt, kelp, sea weeds.

Effect of salty taste: balances vital minerals and maintains moisture and electrolytes. It promotes salivation and digestion and is a laxative. Excessive salt causes aging of the skin and graying of the hair, inflammatory skin diseases, rashes, pimples, peptic ulcer, gout, hypertension (Pitta), water retention and obesity (Kapha).

Pungent: Kapha balancing, Vata and Pitta increasing

Foods with pungent taste: onion, garlic, ginger, radish, mustard, spices like chili/black pepper, asafetida.

Effect of pungent taste: stimulates appetite, metabolism and digestive fire. Improves mental clarity, circulation, reduces congestion and water retention. Pungent facilitates sweating and the elimination of ama (toxins) in the body. It purifies the blood, helps to eliminate blood clots and kills germs. Excessive pungent can cause heartburn, peptic ulcer, irritation, inflammation, skin diseases, impurities (Pitta), dryness, weakness, weariness and dizziness (Vata).

Astringent: Pitta and Kapha balancing, Vata increasing

Foods with astringent taste: unripe banana, cranberries, pomegranate, cruciferous vegetables, okra, beans, lentils, parsley, basil and spices like saffron and turmeric.

Effect of astringent taste: decreases water and mucus and is drying to the body. It is anti-inflammatory, reduces sweating, and slows down diarrhea and bleeding. Excessive astringent causes dryness, premature aging and weakens the body. Its drying effect can cause dry mouth, constipation, gas, paralysis, spasms and heart disorders (Vata).

Bitter: Pitta and Kapha balancing, Vata increasing

Foods with bitter taste: dark leafy green vegetables like spinach, chard, kale and dandelion, rhubarb, bitter melon, spices such as turmeric root and fenugreek.

Effect of bitter taste: cleanses ama (toxins) from the body, kills germs and strengthens the immune system. Bitter cools itching, burning skin, cleanses they liver and the blood, promotes digestion and relieves fever. Excessive bitterness dehydrates the body, reduces bone marrow and semen, increases roughness, dryness and dizziness, (Vata).

Doshic Guidelines

Food choices are customized depend on your dosha (constitution)  and current imbalances:

  • Vata dosha should consume more (naturally) sweet, sour, salty and have less bitter, pungent and astringent foods.
  • Pitta dosha needs more sweet, bitter, astringent and less of the salty, pungent and sour foods.
  • Kapha dosha should increase bitter, pungent, astringent and consume less salty, sour and sweet foods.

The American diet favors sweet, sour and salty, and is deficient in pungent, astringent and especially bitter flavor. This contributes to the obesity problem.

An easy and tasty way to get all six flavors is by cooking with spices.

Doshic balancing recipes, spices and teas

Please call Shilpika Devaiah at 216-703-7355 to make an appointment. Phone Consultations are also available.

Refreshing lemonade and raspberries

Ayurvedic Nutrition Consultation

Shilpika Devaiah also offers personalized nutritional guidance according to your dosha and imbalances. Food shopping assistance and cooking lessons can help to create a foundation for healthier eating habits.

Reducing weight naturally

Understanding your body type can help you to accept your own natural beauty and uniqueness. It is neither realistic nor desirable for a solid Kapha (earth and water) body frame to be thin like a Vata (air and space) body type. Setting realistic goals is the first step.

Excessive weight and obesity are caused by incompatible diet and lifestyle. Emotional eating also needs to be addressed. Overeating and poor eating habits lead to incompletely digested food, creating ama (toxins) in the body. These toxins disrupt tissue function and can create health problems not just weight gain.

Dietary guidelines, herbal remedies and lifestyle recommendations to strengthen digestion and increase metabolism are given. Treatments such as massage, heat application, exercise, stress reduction, hypnotherapy and emotional balancing can be part of your personal plan. Panchakarma (detox cleanse) might also be recommended. Elke can help you to reach and keep your ideal weight.

Food cravings

Eat nutrient dense, fresh, home made meals, and avoid processed foods. A variety of foods that include all six tastes are most satisfying. Cooked foods are more nourishing than raw foods and also easier to digest. When agni (digestive fire) is weak the body creates ama (toxins) which prevents the assimilation of nutrients. Overeating and irregular meal times damage the agni. The main meal should be at lunchtime (between noon and 1 p.m.) and the stomach should be two-thirds full.

Raw food

Cooking helps the agni (digestive fire) so we can digest and assimilate food properly. Foods such as grains, beans and cruciferous vegetables should always be eaten cooked. Don’t overcook or burn your food and cook with good oils and spices. Eat vegetable and fruit that is in season; fruit is best eaten during the day in between meals. Sprouts and salads are hard to digest and should be avoided when agni is low.


Shilpika Devaiah

Owner & Ayurveda Doctor at Ayur-Shilpi Ayurveda

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