The Importance of Bitter and Astringent Tastes for Balanced Nutrition

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Ayurvedic medicine describes six rasas, or types of taste. Taste applies not only to the perception of taste buds located on the tongue, but to the final reaction of food in the acid medium of the stomach. The taste in the mouth is called svadu and the taste in the stomach is called paka. For example, ayurveda classifies wheat bread as sweet, even though the taste in the mouth is not sweet as we know it. Its reaction in the stomach makes it sweet.

The six tastes (rasas) are:

  1. Madhura — sweet
  2. Amla — sour
  3. Lavana — salty
  4. Katu — hot
  5. Tikta — bitter
  6. Kashai — astringent

The six tastes should be balanced in the diet for optimum health and nutrition. The ayurvedic principle of the six tastes is key in the science of ayurvedic herbal formulation as well.

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