DEC 13, 2017 3:14 PM PST

Science Explains Why Some People Can't Stand Cilantro

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

For some people, cilantro is the perfect garnish to any savory dish. But for some, this green herb is just plain nasty and intolerable. Why does cilantro draw such deep and polarizing responses?

As it turns out, cilantro contains aldehydes, compounds responsible for the soapy taste and smell that many cilantro-haters reference. (Not coincidentally, soaps are also contain a fair amount of aldehydes.) And while aldehydes are also responsible for the uniquely fresh aroma in cilantro, some people never experience this side of the herb. That's because cilantro-phobes have genetic variations in a group of olfactory-receptor genes, called OR6A2, that seemingly intensify the soapy taste.

So, if you happen to be a cilantro-phile, thank your parents for your appreciation of this herb. If you happen to be a cilantro-phobe, try swapping parsley for cilantro.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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