Black licorice looks innocent enough.
But eat enough of those sticks or candies, and you could suffer the consequences.
We’re not talking about weight gain or tooth decay. We’re talking bonafide, serious health issues like arrhythmia, reports the FDA.
Fans of candy brands like Twizzlers, Good and Plenty and Haribo can calm down. Most of the stuff you see on the shelves at places like Publix and CVS are only “flavored with licorice,” reports the National Institutes of Health.
But the real thing? That’s a different story.
Blame it on one ingredient. Glycyrrhizin, the sweetening compound derived from licorice root, can cause your potassium levels to decrease, sometimes resulting in abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, edema, even congestive heart failure.
According to a warning released on the FDA’s website, if you’re 40 and older and have a history of heart disease and/or high blood pressure, eating two ounces of black licorice a day for at least 2 weeks “could land you in the hospital.”
Black licorice also can interact with some medications and dietary supplements.
Some good news, at least, is that potassium levels are usually restored when consumption stops, with no lasting health problems, said doctor Linda Katz with the FDA.