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Culture & Religion

Don’t Like Cilantro? It Could Be Your Genes’ Fault

Scientists have long suspected that some people's aversion to cilantro went beyond simple lack of cultural exposure. A series of studies confirms a possible genetic link.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What’s the Latest Development?

Do you like cilantro (or coriander, as it’s called in the UK and this Nature article)? According to several studies, your answer may have less to do with your exposure to it and more to do with your genes. Researchers at a California-based consumer genetics firm asked two different sets of customers whether cilantro tasted like soap and whether they liked cilantro. Based on the responses, the team identified two genetic variants, the strongest-linked of which was found in nearly half of Europeans surveyed. Of those, just over 15 percent said cilantro tasted like soap. Another team of scientists linked cilantro distaste to several other genes, including one linked to bitter tastes.

What’s the Big Idea?

According to another study published earlier this year, “21% of east Asians, 17% of people of European ancestry and 14% of people of African descent” dislike cilantro, while in cultures where the herb is more prominent — south Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern — only 3-7% of people disliked it. This shouldn’t all be linked to genetics; the California team says it’s possible that the ability to inherit a taste for cilantro is just low.

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