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Licorice isn’t just vile — it could also be bad for your heart

9Coach logo 9Coach 5/11/2017 Sam Downing

Black licorice shouldn’t be avoided for just taste reasons but also for health reasons. © Shutterstock Black licorice shouldn’t be avoided for just taste reasons but also for health reasons. Some of you may already be objecting to that “vile” in the headline, so let’s get this out of the way early: licorice is vile, and you are wrong for liking it.

Black licorice shouldn’t only be avoided for taste reasons but also for health reasons, because it turns out it can be bad for your heart.

No less than the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that eating two ounces (56g) of licorice every day for at least two weeks could lead an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia.

It’s down to a compound called glycyrrhizin, the sweetener derived from licorice root which causes levels of potassium in your body to drop. That can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, edema (swelling), lethargy, and congestive heart failure.

Several case reports (such as this, this and this) have linked licorice to a range of medical problems.

According to FDA doctor Linda Katz, potassium levels usually go back to normal when people quit eating black licorice.

In a consumer update, the FDA advised those who’ve been scoffing black licorice recently (perhaps as their go-to Halloween treat) to stop eating it immediately and contact a healthcare provider if they have an irregular heart rhythm or muscle weakness.

Licorice’s compounds can also interfere with some medications, herbs and dietary supplements.

Lastly, the FDA encouraged “moderation”, recommending that “large amounts” of licorice shouldn’t be consumed in one sitting.

Just to be safe, you should stop eating the vile stuff altogether.

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