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Food & Recipes

The Surprising Reason Some People Hate This Popular Herb


If you hate cilantro, it’s not your fault. On the other hand, if you love cilantro, that’s not your fault, either. Plenty of people can’t stand this popular leafy herb, and whichever camp you’re in, chances are, your mom and dad feel the same way you do. That’s because hating —or loving — cilantro all comes down to your genes.

Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about herbs. Unless you’re a chef writing up recipes, you’re probably not walking around wondering about how rosemary got its name. (Just in case you do wonder, though, its name in Latin means ‘dew of the sea.’) There is one herb in particular that most people have heard of though, if only because of the controversy surrounding it. That herb is cilantro.

Why do some people hate cilantro?

Many people have strong feelings when it comes to cilantro. Some wouldn’t dream of putting out a taco Tuesday spread without it, while others assiduously avoid it. Ever made salsa for a party and left out the cilantro at the request of a guest? Don’t blame them — they can’t help it. Hating cilantro is primarily the result of genetics, culture, and environmental factors.

Like rosemary, cilantro’s origins can be traced back to the Mediterranean. The seeds of this plant are actually coriander, a spice used frequently in Indian cooking, which is why the two are often referred to interchangeably. The benefits of coriander create a powerful case for integrating the spice into your diet — lowered blood sugar, reduced risk of heart disease, and improved gut health being just three of its healing properties.

Why does cilantro taste like soap?

According to a study done by genetics firm 23 and me, certain people think cilantro tastes like soap. The soapy taste comes from an olfactory gene. The gene is called OR6A2, and it’s linked to aldehyde detection. Aldehydes are chemical components found in soap and responsible for the smell — and taste — of cilantro.

However, the great news here is that if you dislike of the taste of cilantro, that can change. Why? According to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s for psychological reasons. “Over time, as your brain processes new experiences with positive sensory exposures where cilantro is present, even … cilantro-phobes can be converted into liking it.”

Even if you’re a cilantro-hater who is reading this and thinking it could never happen, you never know. Open yourself to the possibility, and your heart — and gut — may thank you!

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