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Benefits Of Eating 5 Food Flavours For Health

Benefits Of Eating 5 Food Flavours For Health

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According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the food you eat can have energetic properties that act similar to medicine. The Chinese categorise the taste of food into 5 flavours which is :


1. Sweet
2. Bitter
3. Sour
4. Spicy (or pungent)
5. Salty


These 5 flavours not only represent the tastes of food, but also its energetic properties and which organs they effect.


If balanced in each meal, these collective flavours are thought to bring optimal nourishment to the body, keeping it free of disease.


According to Chinese dietary wisdom:


  • Sour flavour such as lemon, lime, green apples, vinegar, fermented foods (pickles, olives) can calm the body.
  • Bitter flavour such as example some leafy green vegetables, some root vegetables, some herbs, grilled foods, roasted or toasted foods (including seeds and nuts), chocolate, coffee, tea can clear heat.
  • Sweet flavour such as pumpkin, carrots, beets, many wholegrain and grain products, many fruits (dried and fresh), natural sweeteners (grain malts, maple syrup, agave syrup, honey) can ‘tonify’ the body.
  • Spicy (or pungent) flavour such as onions, garlic, ginger, chives, peppers, curry seasoning, spices) can expel wind and cold from the body.
  • Salty flavour such as sea salt, marine algae (sea vegetables), saltwater fish, some dried and smoked foods can help the body to dissolve ‘stagnation’.


Each of the 5 flavours is closely linked to the health and proper functioning of 5 internal organs considered important in Chinese medicine :


  • Heart = Bitter
  • Liver = Sour
  • Spleen = Sweet
  • Lung = Spicy
  • Kidney = Salty


Referring to China’s oldest medical classic, Huangdi Neijing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic), after eating, the sour flavour from foods goes to the liver, bitter flavour goes to the heart, sweet flavour goes to the spleen, spicy flavour goes to the lung and salty flavour goes to the kidney.


In other words, when food is consumed, certain flavours act on one organ more than others. Each flavour acts on or has direct influence on a specific vital organ.


When each flavour is consumed in moderation, it benefits the corresponding organ. Overindulgence in any one flavour can harm the organ and creates imbalance among the 5 vital organ systems.


For internal balance and harmony, important for good health and better immunity to diseases and infections, our diet should have a good combination of the 5 flavours.

Madeline Kwan

Madeline graduated with honours in Bachelor of Science Dietetics with Nutrition and is now pursuing the Master Of Science (Health Sciences) course. Currently working as clinical dietitian in a private health institution in Singapore, Madeline shares her passion for nutrition & diet education, repoductive health and general fitness tips by in her articles for YesMyWellness.com. She is also involved in a number of community projects, which includes travelling to rural areas in South East Asia conducting talks, workshops, health checks.

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