This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Australia, which closed in 2021.

You Can Blame Genetics For Your Hatred Of Coriander

It's also known as cilantro (or the devil's herb).
Your hated of coriander could very well be genetic.
Ian Hubball
Your hated of coriander could very well be genetic.

Coriander -- you either love it or hate it.

But chances are if you fall into the 'hate it' camp you're often met by confused stares and interrogations from your coriander-loving friends as they watch you remove it from your food.

Well, you no longer need to live in fear the next time you're caught removing the devil's herb from your banh mi at lunch, because science has got your back.


Professor Russell Keast, who specialises in sensory food science at Deakin University's School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, told The Huffington Post Australia that genetics can be blamed for our feelings towards the herb, known also as cilantro.

"We have a whole series of smell receptors that are responsible...[for] detect[ing] air borne chemicals," Keast said.

"Over time, there's been a lot of variations within receptors that have occurred."

These smell receptors are highly variable between people and are responsible for determining what we taste when we eat coriander. Over time, Keast explains that one or two of the receptors have developed a variant in them that makes the herb taste like soap.

"Sense of smell is highly variable between people, so what I experience may not be what you experience, and this can be due to quantity, type and natural variations with smell receptors," Keast said.

The variation is a heritable trait that is then passed on by mothers and fathers to their children, the result of this being that a sizeable portion of the world's population hates coriander.

However, before you get too carried away and start blaming genetics for your hatred of coriander, it's thought that only 10-20 percent of people have the specific smell receptor variant.

"The proportion of people who don't like it may be significantly higher than that, but again, it comes back to the fact that maybe the flavour doesn't suit people," Keast said.

For some, coriander just tastes awful (even if it's not in their genes), however Keast explains that for those without a scientific reason for hating it can be overcome.

"There is the learned aspect and also the genetic aspect but if you are hard wired, so to speak, not to like it, there's not much that can be done."

This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Australia. Certain site features have been disabled. If you have questions or concerns, please check our FAQ or contact