Sweet: Brown sugar, dates, raisins (sensation = cooling)
Sweetness helps to cool the system. Sweet natural foods generally help to rebuild tissue and nourish us. These foods feel calming when we are stressed or feeling "fire". The key here is to choose blood sugar balancing meals that are rich in fats yet contain the sweet flavor to provide the cooling sensation. When we eat isolated sweetness in the form of carbs, we experience a quick relief that may feel like it is cooling, but because it is not sustainable due to fluctuating blood sugar, we quickly gain more fire once our blood sugar drops once again.
Sour: Lemon, vinegar, tomato, yogurt, fermented foods (sensation = heating)
Foods that are sour in flavor help to cleanse our system and provide a sense of heat in our body. That is why we want some to fire up the engine but not too much as this will increase feelings associated with too much heat in the body aka aggravation, irritability etc.
Salty: Salt, seaweed (sensation = heating)
Salty foods stimulate digestion and lubricate tissue.
Pungent: Chili peppers, black pepper (sensation = heating)
Hot foods work to activate metabolism and heat up digestion. Small amounts make a big impact, too much counteracts the benefits - you don't want to eat so much spicy foods that you feel stressed out - that will only lead you to become irritable and reach for sweets. So be intuitive about the right amount for you.
Bitter: Olives, dark leafy greens (sensation = cooling)
Bitter foods are great detoxifiers and body purifiers.
Astringent: Salads, cucumber, fresh fruit (sensation = cooling)
Good to cleanse and detox; tightens tissue. Astringent foods are light in nature - too much will leave us feeling airy like when on a vegan, raw diet for too long - on the contrary too little astringent foods will leave us feeling heavy and stagnant.
Want more? One of my favorite books on understanding Eastern medicine and implementing it into our Western lifestyle is this: