Why Does Cilantro Taste Like Soap to Some People?

Posted: April 25, 2019 in Did you know?, General

cilantroOf course some of this dislike may come down to simple preference, but for those cilantro-haters for whom the plant tastes like soap, the issue is genetic. These people have a variation in a group of olfactory-receptor genes that allows them to strongly perceive the soapy-flavored aldehydes in cilantro leaves.

Cilantro (aka the leaves of the coriander plant) is a tasty herb to most people. A pleasing combination of flavors reminiscent of parsley and citrus, the herb is a common ingredient in many cuisines around the world. However, some people find cilantro revolting, including, famously, the chef Julia Child. Of course some of this dislike may come down to simple preference, but for those cilantro-haters for whom the plant tastes like soap, the issue is genetic. These people have a variation in a group of olfactory-receptor genes that allows them to strongly perceive the soapy-flavored aldehydes in cilantro leaves.

This genetic quirk is usually only found in a small percent of the population, though it varies geographically. Interestingly, places where cilantro is especially popular, such as Central America and India, have fewer people with these genes, which might explain how the herb was able to become such a mainstay in those regions. East Asians have the highest incidence of this variation, with some studies showing that nearly 20% of the population experiences soapy-tasting cilantro. There is some evidence that cilantrophobes can overcome their aversion with repeated exposure to the herb, especially if it is crushed rather than served whole, but many people simply choose to go with their genetic inclinations and avoid its soapiness altogether.

FAQ

Is liking cilantro genetic?
A. But, just like the flavors of the herb itself, the findings are nuanced: The genes appear to influence our opinion of cilantro but probably not as much as we initially thought. Geneticists at 23andMe in California asked about 25,000 people whether they like cilantro or think it smells soapy

Why does coriander taste like soap?
A. It’s these receptors that determine what we taste when we eat coriander. Depending on your smell receptors, you may experience a soap-like flavour, rather than the herby flavour others experience. Coriander is just one food that may drastically differ in taste depending on your genetic make-up.

What percentage of people do not like cilantro?
A. Somewhere between 4 and 14 percent of people hate the taste of cilantro – though those numbers might seem pretty low to any of us who actually know someone who thinks cilantro tastes like soap because the people who feel that way never want to stop talking about it.

Is cilantro hereditary?
A. Nature News, Soapy taste of cilantro linked to genetic variants. Business Insider Our hatred (or love) of cilantro may be genetic. The Daily Meal — Cilantro-hating apparently genetic. Medical Daily Research has found that genetics is behind your dislike of cilantro.

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