If You Think Cilantro Tastes Like Soap, It Might Be In Your Genes

Hating cilantro is hard-wired into your genes, and as many as 14 percent of people have a gene variant that makes them think the herb tastes like soap.

What's So Controversial About Cilantro?

The lovers love it, and the haters truly hate it, and both describe cilantro in very different ways. A genetic survey of roughly 30,000 people conducted by genetics research lab 23andme has found that those people who say cilantro tastes like soap aren't just whining. Their distaste for the herb that is frequently found in Mexican cooking is, apparently, hardwired. As the authors of the study associated with the 23andme survey write: "there is a genetic component to cilantro taste perception and [our results] suggest that cilantro dislike may stem from genetic variants in olfactory receptors. We propose that one of a cluster of olfactory receptor genes, perhaps OR6A2, may be the olfactory receptor that contributes to the detection of a soapy smell from cilantro in European populations."

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Who Does It Effect?

While there's a genetic basis for people to hate cilantro, the aversion also varies pretty dramatically between ethnic groups. According to that same study, 8.4 percent of east Asians, 13 percent of Europeans, and 9.2 percent of African Americans claim to think it tastes like soap. If you're one of the haters, take some comfort in the fact that world-famous chef Julia Child couldn't stand the stuff either. You're in good company.

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Editors' Picks: Our Favorite Videos About Taste

Why Does Cilantro Taste Like Soap

An explanation of what's going on, genetically speaking.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Approximately 4 to 14% of people hate the taste of cilantro. 00:14

  2. One study found that people who think cilantro tastes soapy share similarities in smell receptor genes. 01:08

  3. Genes that affect taste of bitterness may play a role in whether or not cilantro tastes soapy to you. 02:01

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Toothpaste contains a chemical that temporarily gets rid of phospholipid molecules. 01:06

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  3. Temperature, texture and smell can change what you sense too. 01:50

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Written by Curiosity Staff June 10, 2016

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