Saturday, July 9, 2016

Tastes to balance Kapha Dosha

Kapha is pacified by the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes and aggravated by the sweet, sour, and salty tastes. Understanding these tastes allows us to better navigate a kapha pacifying diet without having to constantly refer to extensive lists of foods to favor and avoid.


  • Pungent is a spicy, hot flavor like that found in chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, and most spices. In fact, most spices are tremendously kapha pacifying
  • The pungent taste is light, hot, rough, and dry – all beneficial for kapha. In essence, if you like spicy or fiery hot, go for it. And even if you don’t, favor a wide variety of milder spices in your dishes – things like cardamon , cloves,cinnamon,cumin, ginger, garlic, paprika, and turmeric turmeric.
  • The pungent taste cleanses the mouth and clarifies the senses. It stimulates digestion, liquefies secretions, clears the channels of the body, encourages sweating, and thins the blood.
  • The bitter taste predominates bitter greens (like kale, dandelion greens, collard greens, etc.), and is also found in foods like bitter melon, Jerusalem artichokes, burdock root, eggplant, and dark chocolate.
  • The bitter taste is rough, drying, light, and generally reducing – all qualities that benefit kapha, but it is also cooling, so it’s important to add some warming spices to bitter foods.
  • The bitter taste cleanses the pallet and improves the sense of taste. It tones the skin and muscles, improves appetite, supports digestion, and helps to absorb moisture, lymph, muscle fat, adipose tissue, and sweat.
  • The astringent taste is basically a flavor of dryness – a chalky taste that dries the mouth and may cause it to contract (picture biting into a very green banana).
  • Legumes are classically astringent in taste – adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, soybeans, etc.
  • Some fruits, vegetables, grains, and baked goods are also astringent in taste – things like apples, cranberries, pomegranate, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, rye, rice cakes and crackers.
  • The astringent taste is dry, rough, somewhat light, and it reduces kapha. But like the bitter taste, it is also cold, so it’s best to add warming herbs and spices to astringent foods. In some cases (as with pomegranate), simply enjoying these foods in the warmer seasons makes more sense.
  • Kapha benefits from the compressing, absorbing, nature of the astringent taste, which also helps to tone bodily tissues and utilize fluids.


  • The sweet taste is cold, heavy, moist, oily and very aggravating to kapha.
  • Eliminate the intake of refined sugar and sugary sweet foods as much as possible.
  • In addition, reduce your reliance on naturally sweet foods like fruits, grains, root vegetables, milk, ghee, yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, oils, and kapha-aggravating meats.
  • Sweet foods tend to aggravate kapha’s tendency toward heaviness, obesity, lethargy, and excess sleep. They can also cause excessive mucus, aggravate colds and coughs, and depress the appetite in an unhealthy way.
  • Minimize sour foods like vinegar, cheese, sour cream, green grapes, oranges, pineapple, and grapefruit. An occasional squeeze of lemon or lime juice is the best way for kapha to ingest the sour taste.
  • The moistening and oily qualities of the sour taste aggravate kapha.
  • The sour taste can increase thirst, create heaviness in the eyes, cause laxity in the body, and aggravate water retention or swelling. 
  • The salty taste is almost singularly derived from salt itself.
  • Much like the sour taste, it is salt’s moist and oily nature that aggravates kapha.
  • The salty taste can cause water retention, high blood pressure, intestinal inflammation, ascites, grey hair, wrinkles, excess thirst, and it can impede the sense organs. Further, it tends to spark a sharp desire for stronger flavors and can similarly trigger emotional greed.

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