The Six Tastes of Ayurveda

According to ayurvedic wisdom, we need to enjoy six tastes on our tongue at each meal: sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent. The tongue’s experience of these tastes creates digestive reactions that trigger enzymes in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract that are conducive to healthy digestion, assimilation and elimination.

One of the easiest ways to incorporate these six tastes in our meals is by using spice mixes called churnas that take the guesswork out. They can be used to fully season food or as a topping. Eating mindfully and with seasonal foods is also important in ayurveda, so never cook or eat them while agitated or angry. Take time to savor and relish foods and the six tastes.

Sweet (the taste of pleasure): includes ripe bananas, sweet potato, beets, dates, honey, oils, most meats, rice, wheat, milk, ghee, red and yellow apples, red grapes, coconut, avocado, and grains. The sweet taste is nourishing, builds strength and vigor and supports the immune system.

Salty (enthusiasm): includes salts, sea vegetables, dark leafy greens and seafood.

Sour (increases digestive juices): includes yogurt, fermented foods, wine, aged cheese, citrus fruits, vinegars, pickles, green grapes, tomato, okra and eggplant.

Pungent (aids digestion): includes garlic, ginger, all peppers, radishes, onions, cloves, cinnamon, mustard greens, horseradish, mustard seeds and mustard oil.

Bitter (purifies, increases metabolism): includes chocolate, turmeric, black tea, coffee, fenugreek, aloe vera juice, dark leafy greens, lentils, dandelion root, chickpeas, mung beans and coffee.

Astringent (drying, cooling): includes cabbage, raw vegetables, cranberries, okra, pomegranate, unripe bananas, raw potato, coffee beans, black tea, aloe, turmeric, cucumber and honey.


Kay Franz is an artist, yoga teacher and ayurvedic health counselor at Adya Yoga and Ayurveda. For more information, visit


Spice Mix Recipes

Inspired by Eat, Taste, Heal Cookbook by Thomas Yarema, Daniel Rhoda, Johnny Brannigan

Spice Mix 1

Good for dry, cool conditions within your body or seasonal conditions.

2 Tbsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp dried basil
2 tsp powdered ginger
1 Tbsp ground turmeric

Spice Mix 2

Good for hot conditions within your body or seasonal conditions.

2 Tbsp fennel seeds
2 Tbsp coriander seeds
2 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp whole cardamom
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
2 Tbsp fresh mint or 1 tsp dried

Spice Mix 3

Good for cold, moist conditions within your body or seasonal conditions.

2 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp powdered ginger
1 Tbsp fenugreek
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp sage leaves (1 tsp powdered)
1 tsp ground clove
tsp cayenne

Grind ingredients in a spice mill and mix well. Store in an airtight container at room temp. Keep churna handy and use it daily in meals as a light topping or make a curry using one of the blends.

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