Whether or not you like coriander might just be the effect of your genes! A new research suggests that a genetic variant determines how we respond to aromas. So, it’s not really your fault if you don’t like it, right?!
30,000 people of European background were surveyed in 2013 by the company 23andMe as to whether they liked or disliked coriander. Their DNA was then tested. It was revealed that 11,851 of the volunteers liked coriander (also known as cilantro), while 14,604 declared it tasted like soap. The DNA analysis of these people showed 2 genetic variants that seemed to be linked with the preferences. Furthermore, the strongest variant was found in a cluster of known olfactory-receptor genes.
“These results confirm that there is a genetic component to cilantro taste perception and suggest that cilantro dislike may stem from genetic variants in olfactory receptors,” wrote the authors.
The researchers explained that the preference of a person was affected by how his body processed flavour and aroma compounds. For coriander, for instance, aldehydes were involved. The lead author, geneticist Nicholas Eriksson, explained as follows:
“The same chemical can be found in both appealing and unappealing places – cheese and body odour, for example. Conversely, the same ingredient – such as cilantro – can contain both pleasant and unpleasant chemicals. Whether stinky cheese and cilantro are delicious or disgusting depends on your particular perception of many different chemicals.
“Cilantro’s aromatic qualities primarily depend on a group of compounds known as aldehydes. One type of aldehyde has been described as being ‘fruity’ and ‘green’ and another type as being ‘soapy’ and ‘pungent’. One of the eight genes near the SNP we identified codes for a receptor called OR6A2, which is known to detect aldehydes such as those found in cilantro.”
Genetics seem to account for only 10 % of the preference though. Environment might also influence one’s likes and disliked. This implies that those genetically predisposed to hate coriander might begin to like it later in life if they are exposed to it.
“It is possible that the heritability of cilantro preference is just rather low,” said the authors.