Ayurveda is something I’ve been fascinated with since I was first exposed to it during my Yoga Teacher Training almost 5 years ago. I love its emphasis on balance and its acknowledgment that each individual is likely to achieve balance differently – there’s isn’t just one cure for each symptom of dis-ease, there are many. Although I’m still learning and by no means an expert, as an RD and holistic chef, one of Ayurveda’s concepts was particularly striking – namely that including all of the different tastes into our meals is more likely to keep us satisfied and in good health.
I love the simple advice to include a variety of “tastes” into your meals because it’s such an easy way to ensure that you’re including a variety of foods in your diet. This variety can help to protect you from nutrient deficiencies and make sure you’re meeting all of your nutritional needs. Including a variety of tastes may also make us less susceptible to cravings.
In the U. S., we typically consider salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and, more recently, umami (a savory factor) to be the main tastes. Although there is some overlap with the U.S.’s notion of taste, according to Ayurveda there are six tastes (rasa) – salty sweet, sour and bitter are included, but two other tastes are added to the list: pungent and astringent.
Here is a brief breakdown of where to look for each of Ayurveda’s 6 tastes…
Sweet potatoes, carrots, rice, lentils, most fruits, dairy products, maple syrup, honey, ghee, and dates
Citrus fruits, alcohol, tomatoes, fermented foods, and vinegars
Sea salt, sea vegetables, fish, shoyu/tamari and foods with added salt
Dark leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, zucchini, raw beets, turmeric, and coffee/tea
Pomegranates, cranberries, pears, green apples, quinoa, and okra
Peppers, ginger, onions, garlic, cloves, mustard seeds, and black pepper
As you can see from the above list, hitting each of these tastes is a fun approach to increase dietary variety and support a nutritious diet. Does this list inspire any interesting meals? I’m thinking about a quinoa salad with greens, tempeh, strawberries and a light honey ginger dressing. Yum!
-Shauna MS, RD