AncestryDNA® Traits Learning Hub

AncestryDNA® Traits Learning Hub

AncestryDNA® Traits
Learning Hub

Fresh Coriander Aversion

Why do some people think that fresh coriander tastes like soap? Although there's no specific "fresh coriander aversion" gene, there are genetic markers for this phenomenon. An AncestryDNA® + Traits test could reveal whether you are likely to have a fresh coriander aversion.

The Different Taste Experiences of Fresh Coriander

For some people, this parsley-like leaf has a citrusy, floral flavour that adds brightness to soups, dips, and salads. But for other people, fresh coriander tastes soapy, or even like dirt or crushed bugs. Julia Child is perhaps the most famous fresh coriander hater.

How can one herb be so divisive? It turns out, our experience of fresh coriander is tied to our DNA, though we don't really understand how.

So if you avoid Mexican food, Thai dishes, or Indian curries because of your fresh coriander aversion, it could be due to your genetics.

Genetics of Fresh Coriander Aversion

While there's no such a thing as a single "fresh coriander gene," some studies suggest that experiencing the taste of fresh coriander as soapy stems at least in part from your genes.

In one study, hundreds of twins at the annual Twins Days festival in Twinsburg, Ohio, were surveyed about their experience of fresh coriander. Of the identical twins, who share the same DNA, about 80% agreed on whether they found fresh coriander delicious or unpleasant.

But only about 50% of fraternal twins, who share half of their DNA, had the same love or loathing of the coriander leaf. These results indicate that fresh coriander aversion is at least partly genetic.

What Else Does Science Say About Fresh Coriander Aversion

AncestryDNA scientists have discovered over 72,000 DNA markers associated with whether people like or dislike the taste of fresh coriander. Some of these markers are near two olfactory (scent) receptor genes on chromosome 11—OR10A6 and OR10A. Previous scientific research has found these genes are partially responsible for a strong like or dislike of fresh coriander.

Because much of the flavour of food comes from its smell, people who are predisposed to detect a soapy smell in fresh coriander are also likely to think fresh coriander tastes soapy—or tastes like something to keep away from your mouth.

What people who dislike fresh coriander's smell and taste actually are detecting is aldehyde, an organic compound contained in fresh coriander that can smell quite unpleasant.

Fun Facts About Fresh Coriander

Fresh coriander comes from the leafy part of the coriander plant.In fact, in the United Kingdom cilantro is called "fresh coriander." The seeds of this plant can be dried to make the spice coriander. And the stems and leaves can be eaten fresh or dried. The seed has a different flavour profile than the leaf and doesn't cause the same pronounced reaction from fresh coriander haters.

In cultures with fresh coriander-heavy cuisines (like those in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East) fewer people report disliking it. And given the widespread use of that ingredient in their recipes, it suggests that South Asians and Middle Easterners, for example, tend to like fresh coriander. So, it could be that even if your DNA predisposes you to be a "fresh corianderphobe," you might perhaps come around to liking it if you’re exposed to it enough.



Callaway Ewen. "Soapy taste of coriander linked to genetic variants." Nature. September 12, 2012.

"Do you love or hate cilantro? The reason may surprise you." Health Essentials. Cleveland Clinic. April 28, 2015.

Doucleff, Michaeleen. "Love to hate cilantro? It’s in your genes and maybe, in your head." NPR. September 14, 2012.

Knaapila, Antti, Liang-Dar Hwang, Anna Lysenko, et al. "Genetic analysis of chemosensory traits in human twins." Chemical Senses. November 2012.

Mauer, Lilli and Ahmed El-Sohemy. "Prevalence of cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) disliking among different ethnocultural groups. "Flavour. May 2, 2012.

Related articles