Salty Taste

naturally salty foods

The salty taste is almost singularly derived from salt and is readily identified in our diets.

The Salty Taste—at a Glance

Balances: Vata
Aggravates: Pitta and Kapha
Primary Elements: Water and Fire
Virya (temperature): Heating (though the mildest of the heating tastes)
Vipaka (post-digestive effect): Sweet
Gunas (associated qualities): Heavy, oily, hot
Associated Positive Emotions: Courage, confidence, enthusiasm, interest
Emotions of Excess: Temptation, addiction, attachment, greed, possessiveness, irritability
Location on the Tongue: Rear edges of the tongue
Affinity for Organs: Kidneys
Most Affected Tissues: Plasma, blood, muscle, fat, and nervous tissue
Direction of Movement: Downward (activates apana vayu)
Additional Actions: Appetizer, expectorant, moistening

 

Dr. Vasant Lad's tongue illustration

© Vasant Lad 1 

Examples—Substances that Illustrate the Salty Taste

Vegetables Celery, seaweed
Dairy Cottage cheese
Meat & Fish Tuna
Spices & Flavorings Table salt, sea salt, rock salt, gamasio, soy sauce, tamari

Benefits

The salty taste increases salivation and supports digestion, absorption, assimilation, and elimination. It promotes growth, supports muscle strength, moistens the body, and helps maintain the water-electrolyte balance.

It is also energizing, nutritive, demulcent, grounding, and soothing to the nervous system. The salty taste nourishes the plasma (rasa dhatu), clears the channels of the body, prevents stiffness, and enhances the spirit. 

As an enhancing agent, it helps combat dullness, sadness, and a lack of creativity in our lives.2 

 

In Excess

A little bit of salt enhances the flavor of other foods, but being as intense (and addictive) as it is, salt can also easily overshadow other flavors entirely, so it is important to strike a balance by using salt in small quantities.

If overused, the salty taste can disturb all of the doshas. It tends to cause sodium and/or water retention, which can lead to thick and viscous blood, thickening and narrowing of the blood vessels, and excess thirst, among other things.1

Excess salt also aggravates skin imbalances and may cause uncomfortable feelings of excess heat in the body.3 4 

Contraindications

The salty taste can exacerbate the situation in the case of high pitta, or if there are imbalances in the blood.

Exceptions

Natural Mineral Salt or rock salt is cooling rather than heating and is far more balancing for pitta than other forms of salt. Its mildness and diverse mineral content help minimize the potential hazards of excess salt. This type of salt is very highly regarded in the Ayurvedic tradition and is considered a superior salt.

When used externally, all types of salt help draw moisture and natural toxins out of the body.5 

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