The Six Tastes

The Six Tastes

Long before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration provided us with recommended daily allowances for fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, we listened to our taste buds to determine which substances were edible and how much of them to consume. Ayurveda teaches that all six tastes should be eaten at every meal for us to feel satisfied and to ensure that all major food groups and nutrients are represented.

Taste Food Sources Basis of Taste Effect on Mind-Body Physiology
Sweet Grains, pasta, rice, bread, starchy vegetables, dairy, meat, chicken, fish, sugar, honey, molasses Carbohydrates, protein, fat
  • Soothing effect on the body.
  • Brings about satisfaction and also builds body mass.
  • Balances Vata and Pitta doshas
  • Excessive intake can aggravate Kapha dosha
Sour Citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, pickled foods, salad dressing, alcohol Organic acids: ascorbic acid, citric acid, acetic acid
  • Stimulates the appetite and aids digestion (but can be irritating to those suffering from heartburn)
  • Balances Vata
  • Excessive intake aggravates Pitta and Kapha
Salty Table salt, soy sauce, salted meats, fish Mineral salts
  • Enhances the appetite and makes other tastes more delicious
  • Balances Vata
  • Too much salt increases Kapha and Pitta elements
Pungent Peppers, chilies, onions, garlic, cayenne, black pepper, cloves, ginger, mustard, salsa Essential oils
  • Promotes sweating and clears the sinus passages
  • Balances Kapha dosha
  • Excessive intake irritates Vata and Pitta doshas
Bitter Green leafy vegetables, green and yellow vegetables, kale, celery, broccoli, sprouts, beets Alkaloids or glycosides
  • Detoxifying to the system
  • Balances Kapha and Pitta
  • Excess intake increases Vata and may cause some gas or indigestion
Astringent Lentils, dried beans, green apples, grape skins, cauliflower, pomegranates, tea. Tannins
  • Balances Kapha and Pitta
  • Excess intake increases Vata

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