The 6 tastes affect different parts of the digestive system. 


The Sweet taste stimulates the salivary glands and prepares the digestive system to receive the food. Since this is the case, it is better to have your sweet-tasting foods first. Foods that contain the sweet taste include: grains, ghee, nuts, non-fermented dairy, fruit, sugar, honey, succanat, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, dates, figs. It builds all 7 tissues in the body: lymph, blood, muscle, fat, bone, bone marrow and nerves, and the reproductive tissues.  Its rich and lubricating qualities are important for plasma, fat, muscle. Pitta and Vata imbalances are balanced by the sweet taste, and Kapha is increased by the sweet taste.  The sweet taste has a building effect on the body or anabolic effect.


The sour taste affects the stomach and increase our digestive fire or agni. Foods that contain the sour taste include: citrus fruits, yogurt, vinegar, cheese, fermented foods. It builds all 7 tissues in the body, offers some heat to stimulate acid in the stomach to stoke the digestive fire. Vata is balanced by the sour taste.  It has a catabolic or break down effect on the body.


The salty taste stimulates the salivary glands and increases the digestive fire. Foods that contain the salty taste include: seaweed, tamari, table salt, sea salt, sea vegetables. This taste is beneficial to nerve tissue, and supports keeping the nervous system in rest-and-digest mode.  Vata is balanced by the salty taste, and it is anabolic or building in nature.


The pungent taste promotes digestion, circulation, and metabolism.  Foods that are pungent include: cayenne, chili peppers, black pepper, ginger, garlic, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, anise seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric.  This taste cleanses all the tissues, heats up your metabolism, promotes circulation and sweating to move out wastes and toxins. Kapha benefits greatly from the pungent taste. It has a catabolic effect.


The astringent taste improves absorption of foods. Foods that are astringent are pomegranate, cranberries, legumes, raw fruits and vegetables, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, sesame seeds.  It promotes healing of tissues due to its cooling and drying effect and promotes clotting.  The astringent taste benefits Pitta and Kapha and provokes Vata. It has a catabolic effect.


The bitter taste releases digestive enzymes, promotes detoxification, and removes fat. Foods that are bitter include: greens especially dandelion greens, bitter melon, burdock, eggplant, turmeric, fenugreek, cinnamon, and cumin. The bitter taste is a great tonic for the liver and spleen, aids in blood cleansing, aids the pancreas, and has an anti-inflammatory effect. The bitter taste benefits Pitta and Kapha, but provokes Vata. It has a catabolic effect.

Why are yogurt lassi’s so important in a balanced Ayurvedic diet?

A cumin and salt yogurt lassi or takram combine the sour, bitter and salt tastes to promote the digestive fire and help with removal of toxins.

 Next Month:

We will discuss fertility foods, and fertility herbal formulas.

Vibrant Health Ayurveda and Yoga located near Boulder and Denver in Colorado is 1 of the few ayurvedic centers offering a full spectrum of Ayurveda, Yoga and Panchakarma services.

By Mary Bruck – a doctoral Ayurvedic practitioner practicing Ayurveda in Boulder, CO

Mary Bruck

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