Cilantro? More like, cilantrno

By Staff Writer • Published: September 8th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Although some people consider cilantro a way to add instant freshness to any meal, members of the website think you might as well be shaving some soap flakes onto your meal.

The members wear their dislike of the herb proudly. One user name is CausticChemicals. Other members include anticilantro, freeparsley and cilantrNO.

CausticChemicals may be onto something.

Those who don’t like cilantro cite a soapy flavor. That’s thanks to a kind of chemical found in cilantro that contributes to its taste. These chemicals, called aldehydes (AL-duh-hides), are also found in soaps and lotions — and that’s not all. When stink bugs are threatened, they release a chemical mix which includes aldehydes.

The gene that makes people sensitive to aldehydes (AL-duh-hides) is associated with the sense of smell. A researcher with the genetics firm 23andMe found that almost half of Europeans have the gene that disposes them to thinking cilantro tasted soapy. Of those, 15 percent reported that cilantro tasted soapy. Of the Europeans who did not have the variant of the gene at all, 11.5 percent also thought cilantro tasted like soap. The researchers think these people simply don’t like the taste of cilantro.

In a separate study, researchers found an association between the taste of cilantro and genes associated with bitter flavors. The particular variant of this gene governs whether people like bitter vegetables such as kale or broccoli.

Other researchers found that people who were less sensitive to bitter flavors tended to eat about 200 or more servings of veggies more per year.

Although researchers say you can alter your taste preferences over time, cilantro haters may prove difficult to convince. The anti-cilantro website has a section for members to write haikus about their herb hate.