Science

Is Hating Coriander Genetic?

There are a small, but vehement, group of people that hate Coriander with a passion. But it turns out that they might not be fussy; instead, they might just be unlucky enough to be beneficiaries of a curious genetic mutation.

A new study conducted at the University of Toronto looked at the preferences of 1400 young adults, and found that Coriander aversion varies dramatically between ethnic groups. Those with East Asian roots, for instance, tend to be coriander (also called cilantro in the Americas) haters, with 21 per cent disliking the herb. On the flip side, those with a Middle Eastern background are big fans, with only three per cent finding the taste repellent. Caucasians, for what it’s worth, sit closer to the hating end of spectrum, with 17 per cent disliking the taste. The results are published in Flavour.

While it’s easy to suggest that it might be exposure at an early age that gives people a taste for the herb — and to some extent, that certainly will be the case — the researchers suggest that it has a genetic basis, too. Ahmed El-Sohemy, one of the researchers, explains to MSNBC:

“Cilantro is perhaps the most polarising with large numbers either loving it or hating it. People who dislike cilantro extremely describe it very, very differently from those who love it … These individuals live in very different sensory worlds and are not perceiving the same thing.”

In fact, the view that a taste for coriander is genetic is becoming widely accepted throughout the academy. So, does that mean cilantro hating is definitely hard-wired? No, not quite. In truth, though there’s a growing body of evidence that the aversion is in some way genetic, scientists are yet to pin-point a single gene that’s responsible for the dislike. So, until they do, you can continue to call out your friends as fussy. [Flavour via MSNBC]

Image: Getty/Andreas Rentz

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