FDA: Black Licorice is best in moderation

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Oct. 28, 2011—Food and Drug Administration says black-licorice aficionados, especially those who are at least 40 years old, should avoid eating the candy in large quantities.

Black licorice contains glycyrrhizin, which is a compound that can cause potassium levels to decrease. This decrease can lead to an irregular heartbeat, edema (swelling), high blood pressure or congestive heart failure.

FDA found that individuals who are 40 and older and who eat 2 ounces of black licorice daily for 2 weeks have an increased risk of irregular heartbeat. Several medical journals link black licorice to health problems in people who are older than 40 who have a history of high blood pressure or heart disease.

FDA says an individual’s potassium levels return to normal when he/she stops eating black licorice.

Black licorice can interact with certain medications, and FDA advises individuals to consult a doctor if they have any questions. If an individual who consumes black licorice develops an irregular heartbeat, he/she should seek medical attention.