The sweet taste, as a naturally appealing element of our diets, requires little explanation. It is the flavor of sugars such as glucose, sucrose, fructose, maltose, and lactose and can be found in many carbohydrates, fats and proteins.1 But the sweet taste is often more subtle than we might initially imagine. For instance, rice and milk are predominantly sweet.
The Sweet Taste – At A Glance
|Balances:||vata and pitta|
|Primary Elements:||earth and water|
|Vipaka (post-digestive effect):||sweet|
|Gunas (associated qualities):||heavy, cold, oily, soft, relatively difficult to digest, grounding, building, nourishing|
|Associated Positive Emotions:||love, sharing, compassion, joy, happiness, bliss – the most sattvic of flavors|
|Emotions of Excess:||attachment, greed, possessiveness|
|Location on the Tongue:||front tip|
|Affinity for Organs:||thyroid, upper lungs|
|Most Affected Tissues:||all 7 tissues (dhatus)|
|Direction of Movement:||descending, stabilizing (activates apana vayu)|
|Additional Actions:||moistening, laxative, diuretic, demulcent, emollient, antispasmodic, expectorant, anti-inflammatory|
Examples – Substances that Illustrate the Sweet Taste
|Fruits||bananas, cantaloupe, dates, figs, mangos, melons, prunes|
|Vegetables||beets, carrots (cooked), cucumber, olives, sweet potatoes|
|Grains||corn, rice, wheat|
|Legumes||garbanzo beans, lentils (red), mung beans, navy beans, tofu, urad dal|
|Nuts & Seeds||almonds, cashews, coconut, pumpkin seeds|
|Dairy & Eggs||ghee, milk, eggs|
|Meat||beef, buffalo, pork, salmon|
|Spices & Flavorings||basil, bay leaf, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, mint, nutmeg, saffron, tarragon, vanilla|
The sweet taste benefits the mucus membranes throughout the body, including those lining the mouth, the lungs, the GI tract, the urinary tract, and the reproductive system.1 This taste is strengthening, nutritive, energizing, tonic, and soothing to the mind.1 In fact, the sweet taste is often used to enhance clarity and awareness in spiritual realms.1 It also relieves thirst, soothes burning sensations, and has a sustained cooling effect on the body.2 The sweet taste benefits the skin, hair, and complexion, hastens the repair of wounds, is pleasing to the senses, and lends melodious qualities to the voice.2 It also enhances the integrity of the immune system, improves longevity, and ultimately, increases ojas.2
It is tempting to over-indulge in the sweet taste because it is so pleasant and, in fact, addictive. However, when overused, the sweet taste can smoother the digestive fire, diminish the appetite, increase mucus, promote congestion, colds and coughs, or cause ama (toxins), fever, breathing problems, dampness, swollen lymph glands, tumors, edema, flaccidity, heaviness, laziness, excessive desire for sleep, worms, fungal infections, excess Candida albicans, obesity, and diabetes.1, 2 Excessive sweet taste can also contribute to unhealthy cravings and greed.2
The sweet taste can exacerbate the situation if there is excess fat, excess kapha, or a high level of ama (toxicity) in the system.1
While mung beans, barley, and honey taste predominantly sweet, they do not tend to increase kapha and are actually thought to help balance excess moisture.1
1 Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. London: Churchill Livingston, 2006. Print. 38-39, 63.
2 Lad, Vasant. Textbook of Ayurveda Vol I: Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda. Albuquerque: The Ayurvedic Press, 2002. Print. 241-244.
3 Lad, Usha and Dr. Vasant Lad. Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. 2nd ed. Albuquerque: The Ayurvedic Press, 2006. Print. 232-238.