zaterdag 10 december 2016

Koriander smakelijk of vies?

Hou jij van koriander?  Volgens de een heeft het kruid een lekkere, frisse en aromatische citrussmaak. Volgens de ander smaakt het naar zeep, schimmel, modder of insecten. Nutritionfacts legt uit hoe dat komt.

Verschillende aanwijzingen suggereren dat de smaakwaardering van koriander genetisch bepaald is. Van verschillende etnische groepen vindt een verschillend percentage het kruid naar zeep smaken. Zo noemt 14,1% van de Ashkenazische joden (afkomstig uit centraal- of Oost-Europa) de smaak zeepachtig en - dus - niet lekker. In Zuid-Azië is de groep mensen die vinden dat het kruid naar zeep smaken het kleinst, slechts 3,9%. Tevens is gebleken dat eeneiige tweelingen vaak dezelfde smaakbeleving bij koriander hebben, terwijl die correlatie bij twee-eiige tweelingen minder sterk was.

Het vermoeden werd bevestigd door een studie onder 14.000 deelnemers die koriander naar zeep vonden smaken en 11.000 mensen die aangaven of ze koriander wel of niet lekker vonden. Ze bekeken het totale genoom van alle proefpersonen en ontdekten een associatie van gen OR6A2 op chromosoom 11.

Dat gen zorgt ervoor dat we bepaalde stoffen kunnen ruiken. Onder deze stoffen valt ook E-(2)-Decenal, dat zowel in koriander voorkomt als in de stinkende stoffen die insecten afscheiden om zich te beschermen tegen vijanden.

Different ethnic groups do seem to have different rates of cilantro dislike, with Ashkenazi Jews scoring highest on the cilantro hate-o-meter (see The Cilantro Gene). Another clue came from twin studies, that show that identical twins tend to share cilantro preferences, whereas regular fraternal twins do not have such a strong correlation. Our genetic code is so big, though, containing about three billion letters, that to find some cilantro gene you’d have to analyze the DNA of like 10,000 people, and obviously genetic researchers have better things to do…or maybe not.

Researchers performed a genome-wide association study among 14,000 participants who reported whether cilantro tasted soapy, with replication in a distinct set of 11,000 people who declared whether they liked cilantro or not. And lo and behold they found a spot on chromosome 11 that seemed to be a match. What’s there? A gene called OR6A2 that enables us to smell certain chemicals like E-(2)-Decenal, a primary constituent of cilantro and also…the defensive secretions of stink bugs. So maybe cilantro does taste like bugs! But, cilantro lovers may be genetic mutants that have an inability to smell the unpleasant compound.

That may actually be an advantage, though, since cilantro is healthy stuff. In fact, that’s the justification to do these kinds of studies: to see why some people don’t like the taste of healthy foods.

Are the cilantro haters really missing out on much, though? Mother nature has been described as the “oldest and most comprehensive pharmacy of all time,” and cilantro—called coriander around most of the world—is one of nature’s oldest herbal prescriptions, credited with anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-anxiety, and anti-epilepsy properties. However, these are all from preclinical studies, meaning studies done on cells in a test tube or lab animals. Studies like the “Anti-Despair Activity of Cilantro…” in which researchers placed animals in a “despair apparatus” (you don’t want to know).

Finally, though, there was a human study, on the anti-arthritis potential of cilantro. There was an earlier study performed in Germany of a lotion made out of cilantro seeds showing it could decrease the redness of a sunburn, demonstrating it had some anti-inflammatory effects )though not as much as an over-the-counter steroid, hydrocortisone, or prescription strength steroid cream). If the cilantro plant is anti-inflammatory, why nto give it to people with osteoarthritis and see if it helps? Researchers gave about 20 sprigs of cilantro daily for two months, and reported a significant drop in ESR—a nonspecific indicator of inflammation—in the cilantro group. How did the patients do clinically, though? The study didn’t say, but it did report a rather remarkable 50% drop in uric acid levels, suggesting that huge amounts of cilantro may be useful for those suffering from gout.

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