The Six Tastes ~ Sour


The six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent) have a deep significance in Ayurveda because, at its core, overall health is linked to our digestion. These tastes "Rasa" are critical because each has a specific effect not only on each dosha but also on the six stages of digestion, which has a therapeutic value on the body, mind, and spirit.

This month we will discuss the Sour taste, which is found fruits like lemons, limes, oranges, and cranberries, and in dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and sour cream. In addition, fermented foods and like vinegar, pickles, sauerkraut, soy sauce, and some beverages like wine, beer, liquor, and kombucha fall into this category.

The Sour taste is relatively familiar and is primarily the result of acids such as citric acid, lactic acid, malic acid, oxalic acid, and ascorbic acid found in our foods. We often "pucker" when we encounter the sour taste, which almost immediately moistens the mouth and increases the flow of saliva.

From an Ayurvedic point of view, the sour taste is astringent and heating, and is most balancing for the Vata (cold, dry, light, and mobile) dosha, which benefits from warmth and moisture. The Pitta (hot and wet) dosha does not benefit from the excess heat generated from this taste. For Kapha, this taste should be used in moderation because it can increase the heaviness and wetness. Although sour is unbalancing for Pitta, there are a couple of exceptions to the rule, where Amalaki, lime, and pomegranate are cooling and reduce heat and inflammation.

The sour taste is the second stage of digestion, where earth and fire elements are predominant. As a digestive, it fuels the appetite, increases salivary secretions, and relieves thirst. It enhances digestive enzymes, is a natural cleanser moving stagnation in the liver, encouraging the flow of bile and promotes liver function. There is a sense of lightness at this stage because of fire. Still, the release of hydrochloric acid can aggravate the Pitta with possible heartburn or gastritis.

Ayurvedic & Holistic Facts:

Elements: Fire & Earth (hot, moist, and heavy)

Taste (rasa): Sour

Doshic Actions: Reduces Vata, Increase Pitta & Kapha

Location: Lower stomach

Promotes: Digests proteins, brings lightness, stimulates appetite, saliva & maintains acidity.

Food Examples: Fermented foods, vinegar, alcohol,

cheeses, citrus, tomatoes, and yogurt.

Bio-medical actions: detoxicant, anti-flatulent, antispasmodic, antioxidant, astringent, and is rejuvenating.

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