Did you know that Ayurveda focuses on six different taste elements that make up a balanced diet? Including each of these tastes in every meal helps to achieve optimal health and nutrition.
Individually, each taste is known as “RASA”; Sanskrit word for “taste.” These tastes or Rasa are made from the five basic elements of our doshas: fire, air, space, water and earth.
If you have read our previous blog about “Doshas”, you will know the 3 types of doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) and their predominant features.
This blog aims to share the principles of each of the six “Rasas” and their impact on doshas. Rasa is literally our vital blood (Rasa Dhatu).
Rasa influences all aspects of who and what we are; our mind, body and spirit. Ayurveda considers ‘Rasa’ beyond enjoying what we eat. It is a tool for healing.
When we are hungry, the digestive force is at its maximum. Sweet, salty and sour are heavy in nature and are therefore consumed first to use digestive power. Spicy, bitter and astringent foods need less digestive power and are best enjoyed in the second half of the meal.
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The six Rasas are illustrated with examples to guide you in making an informed decision when it comes to planning your daily meals:
1. Sweet (Madhura) – Understand the dominant elements of land and water. This ditch is especially refreshing, nutritious and groundbreaking.
The taste is derived from natural sugars and when consumed in moderate amounts promotes longevity and balances hormones.
Madhura rasa is known to balance the Vata and Pitta doshas and increase the Kapha dosha. Excessive consumption can lead to diabetes, lethargy, anxiety, heart disease and weight gain as it is quite slow to digest.
Foods in this category include rice, milk, dairy, honey, sweet fruits, wheat, rice, pumpkin, natural sweeteners such as dates and honey, meat, fish, sugar and pumpkins.
2. Acid (Amla) – The sour taste is defined by the elements of the earth and the fire. It stimulates the Pitta and Kapha doshas by their earthly constitution and pacifies Vata because it does not contain any air element.
It is known to improve appetite, aid digestion, aid in the elimination of food waste and the production of saliva.
Amla rasa is found in yogurt / mallada, berries and fermented foods. Vinegar, lemons, cheese, tamarind, wine, salad dressings, tomatoes, citrus fruits and pickles also have amla rasa. Excessive consumption causes diarrhea, hyperacidity and excessive thirst.
Emotional outbursts such as jealousy, anger, impatience, and temperament are the result of Amla rasa’s excess. Moderate amounts help to arouse thoughts and emotions, encourage intellectual activities, and strengthen the heart.
3. Salad (Lavender) – Salty is dominated by the elements of water and fire. Due to the water element, it is heavy and due to the presence of the fire element, it has a hot quality and increases Pitta dosha.
Known for balancing Vata and aggravating Pitta and Kapha doshas, it is said to improve saliva production and appetite. Shallow lavender aids digestion, improves mineral absorption, cleanses and lubricates tissues.
Excessive ingestion can have a negative impact on the skin and blood, while causing high blood pressure. The salt is found in soy sauce, rock, table and sea salt, seafood, salted and cured meats, seaweed and black olives.
The taste of salt should be consumed alongside acidic and sweet foods at every meal.
4. Spicy (Cat) – This is a digestive stimulant and is defined by a spicy, spicy taste and intense, dry heat. It is a combination of fire and air elements and is usually created by the presence of volatile aromatic oils and resins.
Katu rasa balances the excess of Kapha and aggravates Pitta and Vata. It warms the body, removes toxins and sinuses and eradicates excess fat.
This spicy ditch stimulates digestion, encourages sweating and improves blood circulation. Excessive consumption can lead to excess thirst, imbalance in the nervous and reproductive system, irritability, anxiety, digestive problems and aggression.
Spicy foods include ginger, garlic, spices, onions, mustard, chillies, hot peppers, cloves, sauce, radish.
Energetically, the spicy taste is invigorating, stimulating, and penetrating; in this way, it is an effective way to remove areas of excess moisture and accumulate stagnation.
5. Bitter (Tick) – It is made of elements of air and space, it is one of the most refreshing and light of the six tastes.
Known for its detoxifying qualities, tikta rasa removes waste and toxic material from the body. It is more suitable for Pita and Kapha doshas and aggravates Vata.
It is commonly found in green leafy vegetables, bitter melons, olives, coffee, sesame seeds and oil, eggplant, cabbage, celery, broccoli, sprouts, green and yellow vegetables, infusions, spices, saffron and turmeric.
Tikta rasa is beneficial in helping to control food cravings, clear emotions and relieve thirst and fever. It also reduces excess fat and water and aids in detoxification.
Excessive consumption can cause gas, upset stomach, anxiety, fear and insomnia. The bitter taste is best consumed in moderation, especially during pregnancy.
6. Astringent (Kashaya) – Astringent Made of air and earth it is said to be a dry flavor. People with Vata should consume this taste in moderation, as it causes gas.
This taste is very good for Pitta and Kapha doshas. Kashaya rasa slows down digestion and relieves the body.
It helps to repair wounds, fights diarrhea, retains water in the body and is anti-inflammatory in nature. Its tendency to attract inwards helps to compress and hold the tissues together, which in turn results in strong, healthy organs, muscles and skin..
Kashaya rasa can be found abundantly in green bananas, pomegranates, tea, coffee, green beans, alfalfa sprouts, okra, lentils, broccoli, turnips, green apples, pears, cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage and fruits such as apples. blueberries, pears, amla and green grapes.
Excessive astringent taste can also cause muscle and joint discomfort, stagnation in blood and lymph, slow circulation, difficulty sleeping, emotional heaviness, and feeling anxious.
As with most things in Ayurveda, the right combination of tastes for you depends a lot on you ‘YOU’—Your constitution, your imbalances, your age, your environment, among other critical and contributing factors.
Simply put, while each of the six tastes is necessary; the details are determined by the context of each individual and may change over time.
A balanced diet will include an adequate amount of each of the six tastes, depending on body composition, current condition and season.
Now that you have a basic understanding of Rasas; It is recommended that you consult your Ayurvedic doctor to create a personalized meal plan based on what suits you best.
May your life always have a rewarding, healthy and abundant taste in every way!
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