If you are exploring my blog you are probably a rather health conscious individual, watching what you are eating, getting to sleep at a decent hour, and making sure to keep your body active. Most likely you have made the distinct connection between the taste of your food and the presumed caloric content and nutrition of it. But have you ever thought that it might not just be the chemical and material composition of your food but the taste itself that will affect your body positively?
In the Vedic science of Ayurveda it is said that there are six tastes that occur in food, sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. These tastes can help bring into balance, or throw out of balance the three doshas, which are three basic qualities that the world is built on, as will be explained in these two diagrams.
Sweet: carbohydrates/grains, rice, bread, sweet fruit, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, milk, oils, meats, nuts
Sour: citrus fruits, yogurt, alcohol, vinegar, cheese, tomato, raspberries, strawberries
Salty: all salts; sea, black, rock
Pungent: garlic, onion, ginger, wasabi, black pepper, cloves, cayenne pepper, horseradish, salsa, jalapenos
Bitter: coffee, rhubarb, tumeric, most green and yellow veggies, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, leafy greens, cabbage
Astringent: fruit peels, unripe banana, leafy greens, blueberries, cranberries, beans, legumes, peas, green tea
Back in the days of yore, we didn’t have the FDA cramming food pyramids and nutrition tables down our throats, we only had our taste buds to discern what will get us to the next day with a full belly, and what would likely make us spend the next four hours crouching over a hole in the ground, fending off hyena’s with a stick. So the more studious of you might realize that this table of tastes directly correlates to various vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in food that are actually on the nutrition tables that I mentioned before. For example, sweet foods are generally ones that’ll make you slower, thereby imbalancing kapha, and what are the sweet foods? They are all high in sugars and carbohydrates and fats, some of the highest calorie things in foods!
So our ancient knowledge of taste ended up saying the exact same thing as our modern knowledge of food does. But of course you have to have balance in all the food groups and taste groups. Yet another example of the connection between the taste of food and the nutritional content of it.
This is a straightforward element of your daily routine to follow, seeing as the six tastes are so easily distinguished, but the fact the it is straightforward doesn’t make it any easier. One way to allow yourself to more easily ingest as close to all the 6 tastes as you can during your meals, even if it is preplanned by a cafeteria, is to try and experiment with all the new foods you can, by getting a small portion of each thing, rather than a heaping serving of a single dish.
I personally have taken to cooking my own meals as often as I can, and the daily routine has given me a nice set of guidelines to operate off of. These guidelines really expand my creativity for whatever I am working on, so as to not fall into making the same dish over and over again. This also greatly expands my culinary knowledge, because in my case, cooking is a hobby.
So in short, by falling back to our age old techniques for dictating what constitutes a hearty and wholesome meal. We are able to improve upon our current calorie-counting, nutrition table reading, overtly scientific mindset towards food that we have spawned as of late, and in the process introduce some variety into our daily diet.
For further information on the 6 tastes feel free to go to :
“The Six Tastes | HeyMonicaB.” HeyMonicaB Nutrition 4 The Six Tastes Comments. N.p., 1 Mar. 2009. Web. 17 Sept. 2013.
“Ayurveda: A Diet Structured to Your Specific Body Type.” Examiner.com. N.p., 21 June 2012. Web. 17 Sept. 2013.
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