Saturday, July 9, 2016

Tastes to Balance Pitta Dosha

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

Favor

Sweet
  • Favor naturally sweet foods like sweet fruits, most grains, squashes, root vegetables, milk, ghee, and fresh yogurt.
  • The sweet taste is cooling and heavy but also anti-inflammatory. It pacifies heat, satisfies thirst, benefits the skin and hair, and tends to be grounding, nourishing, strength building, and satisfying.
  • Emphasizing the sweet taste does NOT require us to eat large amounts of refined sugar or sugary sweet foods; naturally sweet foods are best.
Bitter
  • The bitter taste predominates bitter greens – like kale, dandelion greens, and collard greens. It is also found in bitter melon, Jerusalem artichokes, dark chocolate and pitta pacifying spices like cumin, neem  leaves, saffron, and turmeric 
  • The bitter taste is exceptionally cooling, but also drying.
  • Bitters cleanse the pallet and improve the sense of taste. They tone the skin and muscles, benefit the blood, relieve burning and itching sensations, satisfy thirst, balance the appetite, support digestion, and help to absorb moisture, sweat and excess pitta.
Astringent
  • 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 – adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, chick peas, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans, soybeans, etc. – are classically astringent in taste. Some fruits, vegetables, grains, baked goods, and spices are also astringent in taste – things like apples, cranberries, pomegranate, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, popcorn, rice cakes, crackers, basil,coriander, dill, fennel, parsley, and turmeric.
  • The astringent taste is heavy, cold, and dry.
  • Pitta benefits from the compressing, absorbing, union-promoting nature of the astringent taste. It can curb pitta’s tendency to spread, tone bodily tissues, prevent bleeding disorders, thwart diarrhea, absorb excess sweat and utilize other fluids in the body.

Minimize

Pungent
  • Pungent is a spicy, hot flavor like that found in chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, and many especially heating spices.
  • The pungent taste is particularly hot and light, both qualities that disturb pitta.
  • Too much pungent taste can cause excess thirst, burning sensations, bleeding, dizziness, and inflammation (especially in the intestinal tract).
Sour
  • Minimize sour foods like vinegar and other fermented foods, hard cheeses, sour cream, green grapes, pineapple, grapefruit, and alcohol (an occasional beer or white wine is often ok).
  • Pitta is aggravated by the hot, light, and oily qualities of the sour taste.
  • Too much sour taste can increase thirst, disturb the blood, create heat in the muscles, cause suppuration in wounds, and give rise to burning sensations in the throat, chest, or heart. It can even promote sour feelings like jealously or envy.
  • An occasional squeeze of cooling lime juice as a garnish is the best way for pitta to include the sour taste. 
Salty
  • The salty taste is almost singularly derived from salt itself.
  • Much like the sour taste, it is salt’s light, hot and oily nature that aggravates pitta.
  • The salty taste can disturb the blood’s balance, impede the sense organs, increase heat, aggravate the skin, intensify inflammation, lead to the rupture of tissues, or cause water retention, high blood pressure, intestinal inflammation, ascites, grey hair, wrinkles, and excess thirst. It can also intensify our desire for stronger flavors, which can provoke pitta even further.

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