Ayurveda believes that the food that we prepare and eat has a great impact on the health. As per this alternative medicine, the process of cooking is highly important as digestion. The system states that any food can be stated as a healthy food only when it contains all 6 tastes. This type of food can be easily digested by the human body regardless of the age. This is something termed as ‘Rasa’ by ayurveda and it is the important factor in ayurvedic cooking.
What are the 6 tastes/Rasas as per ayurveda?
Madhura: This taste can bring vitality and energy to the body. It soothes burning sensation and has positive effect on the skin and the hair. Sweet foods are stated as madhura and this taste can balance vata and can soothe pitta. But, when this taste is consumed in larger quantity, it can cause heaviness, congestion and cough. Examples are milk and milk products, sweet potatoes, sweet fruits and some grains like barley, rice and wheat.
Amla: This taste can improve appetite and due to its warming effect on the body, it can promote healthy digestion. When the intake of these foods is increased, it can create ulcer, hyperacidity and indigestion. It can bring down vata, but can increase kapha and pitta. This denotes the sour taste found in lemon, fermented products like vinegar and sour milk products like cheese and yogurt.
Lavana: This third rasa is the salty taste as per ayurveda. When taken in moderate quantity, it will provide energy to the body and can stimulate water retention. When consumed in excess, it will increase the chances of BP. It can increase kapha and pitta, but can reduce vata. It is highly effective for vata people as it can stimulate digestion. It is found in sea foods and food items in which huge salt is added like pickles, chips and nuts.
Katu: Drying, light and heat nature of this taste will be effective in body cleansing. When this taste, which is stated as hot taste in English increases in the foods that we consume, it will lead to inflammation, irritation and nausea. It is highly suitable for people with increased kapha dosha as it can dissolve fat easily. Certain foods like onions, garlic, pepper and chili come under the category of katu taste as per ayurveda.
Tikta: When this bitter taste increases in the foods that we consume, it will lead to dizziness, fatigue and emaciation. It can balance pitta and can enhance digestion, cool excess heat and can improve the functioning of liver. It is found in coffee, tea, green vegetables and bitter melon.
Kashaya: This denotes astringent taste and it is known for its cooling, drying and heavy nature. It can decrease pitta and kapha and can increase vata. It is found in tea, coffee, cauliflower and broccoli.
Conclusion: Ayurveda recommends that to achieve the optimum functioning of the body and to keep away from the disorders caused due to imbalance in any of the three doshas as per ayurveda, these 6 tastes are to be included in the day-to-day diet.