Shadras means six tastes as per Ayurveda. India is the only Country which uses a combo of all these and this is the secret shared by the great saints of India.The six important rasas/tastes of Ayurveda are sweet, sour, salt, pungent, bitter and astringent. A good combination of these ensures the health of the digestive system and ensures that fewer toxins are absorbed into our body.
Why are the six tastes important? Each serves a purpose and ensures the body is at its best emotionally and physiologically.
SWEET: It provides the body with energy and vitality. It balances the burning sensation for Pitta and is good for health of skin and hair. Rice, wheat, milk, date, sugar, potato and ghee are considered to belong to the sweet rasa category.
SOUR: This keeps the body warm, enhances appetite and digestion. However, if had in excess, it can cause indigestion, hyperacidity and ulcers. The sour rasa decreases Vata and increases Pitta and Kapha. Tamarind, yogurt, tomatoes, gooseberry, sea food and alcohol are examples of sour rasa.
SALT: This rasa keeps the body warm, improves digestion and promotes growth in the body. If had in excess however, it results in sluggish lymphatic drainage, thus causing water retention and hypertension. It increases Kapha and Pitta and decreases Vata. Table salt and rock salt are examples of salt rasa.
PUNGENT: This helps in breaking down fat, aids digestion and absorption, and activates blood circulation. In excess, it can cause stomach irritation, heart burn and nausea. It increases Vata and Pitta and decreases Kapha. Ginger, garlic, onion, chili, tulsi and pepper possess pungent rasa properties.
BITTER: This is cool, dry and light, and good for digestion. This rasa enhances liver function and muscle tone. It increases Vata, decreases Pitta and Kapha. Neem, bitter gourd and spinach belong to this rasa.
ASTRIGENT: This rasa has anti-inflammatory properties and helps in absorption of nutrients and is very cooling to the stomach. In excess, it can cause constipation. The astringent rasa increases Vata and decreases Pitta and Kapha. Tea, coffee, pomegranate, asparagus, cauliflower and figs are examples of this rasa.