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Can Too Much Black Licorice Lead to 'Abnormal Heart Rhythms?

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...if you're over 40-years-old, you should think twice.

You may think you're doing your kids a favor by taking on their black licorice from their trick-or-treat stash, but the Food and Drug Administration says if you're over 40-years-old, you should think twice.

Why? Because it could cause you some heart problems. According to FDA Consumer Updates (via Food Consumer), the FDA said eating two ounces of black licorice per day for two weeks could lead to an irregular heart beat or arrhythmia:

FDA experts say black licorice contains the compound glycyrrhizin, which is the sweetening compound derived from licorice root. Glycyrrhizin can cause potassium levels in the body to fall. When that happens, some people experience abnormal heart rhythms, as well as high blood pressure, edema (swelling), lethargy, and congestive heart failure.

If you're a frequent eater of this treat for which adults generally favor compared to children, potassium levels will return to normal after you stop eating it. Also, just because something is licorice flavored doesn't mean it has glycyrrhizin in it. Many licorice flavored treats are made with anise oil, according to the FDA.

Here's what the FDA recommends for those with an affinity to licorice:

  • No matter what your age, don’t eat large amounts of black licorice at one time.
  • If you have been eating a lot of black licorice and have an irregular heart rhythm or muscle weakness, stop eating it immediately and contact your healthcare provider.
  • Black licorice can interact with some medications, herbs and dietary supplements. Consult a health care professional if you have questions about possible interactions with a drug or supplement you take.
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