The concept of the 6 tastes
In order to be able to choose what kind of food is more beneficial for our health, we should understand the following concepts: Rasa, Virya y Vipaka.
Rasa – Taste
The taste starts in the mouth, thanks to the taste buds and the water. Without water we could not perceive the flavors. In order to have a good digestion all the buds should be activated, this means that in more or less proportion all the tastes should be present per meal.
Ayurveda recognizes 6 types:
- Neutral – Sweet “Madhura”: Earth + water.
- Salty “Lavana”: Earth + fire.
- Sour “Amla”: Water + fire.
- Bitter “Tikta”: Space + air.
- Pungent “Katu”: Air + fire.
- Astringent “Kasaya”: Earth + air.
- Vata: bitter / pungent/ astringent
- Pitta: Sour / salty / pungent
- Kapha: Neutral – sweet / sour / salty
- Vata: Neutral – sweet / sour / salty
- Pitta: Neutral – sweet / bitter / astringent
- Kapha: Pungent / bitter / astringent
Virya – Heating or cooling action
Virya address the cold or hot experience produced by foods when they reach the stomach. The ability of a food to stimulate or suppress the metabolism
- Cold Virya: sweet, bitter y astringent (increase Vata and Kapha, balance Pitta)
- Hot Virya: salty, sour, hot (increase Pitta, reducing Vata and Kapha)
Vipaka – Post digestive effect
The post digested effect produced by ingested food in long term.
- Neutral – sweet and salty taste become neutral – sweet taste (anabolic, builds tissues)
- Sour taste remains sour in long term (anabolic, builds tissues)
- Pungent, bitter and astringent become pungent in taste (catabolic, reduces tissues)
There are some exceptions which in Ayurveda are called Prabhav. As example see the list below to mention a few:
- Honey, has a cold Virya but is warming in nature.
- Lemon, is sour and has a warming Virya but its affects to the body is cooling.
- Turmeric, is bitter and cold but warms the body up.
- Pomegranate, is astringent, cold and with a pungent Vipaka, but has a neutral effect to the body.