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  • Writer's pictureSinead Mackintosh

Cilantro / Coriander

If you are like me and have people in your life that create a fuss about cilantro/coriander (they know who they are). You might also wonder what the big deal is against the tasty green herb. People with the aversion may say it tastes soapy, bitter or (my favourite) like stinkbugs.

In our bodies, we have little receptors on our cells that bind to different chemicals and proteins in our body. The binding starts a reaction that allows us to perceive things like taste and smell, among others. And these receptors are made from different genes.

The OR6A2 gene is a gene that makes a receptor which is specifically sensitive to a group of chemicals that give cilantro its distinctive smell.

People with a particular genetic change in their OR6A2 gene are more likely to perceive cilantro as having a soapy or metallic taste or smell. This is thought to be because the slightly different receptor is more sensitive to the specific chemicals present in cilantro, which can give it a different flavour than what people who don't have that same receptor experience.

However, it's worth noting that not everyone who dislikes cilantro has this genetic variation, and conversely, not everyone with the variation dislikes cilantro. Cultural background and personal experiences with the herb can also affect a person's perception of its taste and smell.

So, it is not always a genetic reason that some people do not like cilantro. But this is an excellent example of how humans have remarkable genetic diversity that can impact aspects of our lives, such as experiencing a curry with cilantro!

Do you like cilantro?

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