Saturday, July 9, 2016

Tastes to Balance Vatta Dosha

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


  • Favor naturally sweet foods like fruits, most grains, root vegetables, milk, ghee , fresh yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, most oils, and vata-pacifying meats. ( see our shooping list for vatta.
  • The sweet taste is the foundation of a vata pacifying diet. It is the predominant taste in most of vata’s staple foods.
  • Sweet foods tend 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. In fact, doing so tends to exacerbate vata’s tendency to over-exert and then crash.
  • Favor sour additions like a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, a splash of vinegar, a side of kimchi or sauerkraut, a bowl of miso, a slice of cheese, or a dollop of sour cream.
  • Sour fruits like green grapes, oranges, pineapple, and grapefruit are also appropriate when eaten alone, and in moderation.
  • The sour taste is generally not the centerpiece of a meal; instead, it tends to compliment and enliven other flavors.
  • The sour taste awakens the mind and senses, improves digestion, promotes energy, moistens other foods, and eliminates excess wind.
  • The salty taste is almost singularly derived from salt itself.
  • But favoring the salty taste does not mean that your food should taste as if it’s being cured.
  • In fact, salt is already over-emphasized in the typical western diet. Simply being mindful of including savory flavors and ensuring that your food has some salt in it will likely be sufficient.
  • Salt stimulates the appetite and digestion, helps retain moisture, supports proper elimination, and improves the flavor of many foods.


  • Pungent is a spicy, hot flavor like that found in chilies, radishes, turnips, raw onions, and many spices. That said, in moderation, most spices are actually vata pacifying.
  • The pungent taste is hot, dry and light; too much of it is extremely drying to the system, exacerbates the rough quality, and therefore disturbs vata.
  • 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 chocolate.
  • The bitter taste is cooling, rough, drying, light, and generally reducing – all qualities that tend to aggravate vata.
  • 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.
  • The astringent taste is also found in some fruits, vegetables, grains, and baked goods – things like apples, cranberries, pomegranate, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, rye, rice cakes and crackers.
  • The astringent taste is dry, cold, heavy and rough in nature and so understandably aggravates vata.

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