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Do you hate cilantro? Blame your genes

People not only have visible genetic differences such as eye color, hair color, or height, but we are genetically diverse throughout our entire organism. This is why some individuals have specific hereditary diseases or perhaps a greater predisposition to certain disorders. In this article, we will discuss one genetic difference that you may not be aware of: the taste of cilantro.


Studies on the genetics of cilantro

The aversion to cilantro is an intriguing phenomenon that has been studied in food science and genetics. It is a divergent perception where, for some, cilantro is a fresh and aromatic herb that enhances the flavor of dishes, while for others, its taste is described as unpleasant, often associated with soapy or metallic notes.

Citrantro, también llamado Coriandrum sativum
Cilantro, also known as Coriandrum sativum.

Many studies suggest that aversion to cilantro could have a genetic component. Certain genes related to the perception of specific chemical compounds present in cilantro have been identified. One of the genes implicated in this perception is OR6A2, an odor receptor gene that influences how certain individuals interpret the volatile compounds in cilantro. Studies have shown that genetic variations in this gene can influence how cilantro is perceived, suggesting a potential genetic predisposition for finding the taste of cilantro unpleasant in certain individuals.


Cultural factors

However, not everything boils down to genetics. Culture and individual experiences also play a significant role. For instance, in cultures like Latin American, where cilantro is commonly used in cooking, people may have become familiar with its taste from an early age, leading to greater acceptance regardless of their genetic makeup.

Furthermore, food preferences can change over time due to ongoing exposure to different flavors and foods. This means that acceptance or rejection of cilantro can be shaped by our experiences and exposure to this ingredient.


Other studies

The aversion to the taste of cilantro in some individuals is not an isolated phenomenon. In the scientific community, studies are being conducted on how genes can influence the perception of other tastes, such as bitterness, sweetness, or sensitivity to spiciness, suggesting that genetics plays a crucial role in the variability of individual sensory preferences.

El sabor y picante de muchas especias han cambiado a lo largo de los años
The taste and spiciness of many spices have changed over the years.

In summary, while genetics may influence the rejection of cilantro, the perception of taste is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. Aversion or preference for cilantro is influenced by a combination of genetic, cultural, environmental, and individual experiential factors, contributing to how each person perceives and enjoys this culinary ingredient.

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