Black licorice can also interact with medication and should only be consumed in small doses. Cardiologists say for anyone over 40 years of age, the consequences can be potentially deadly.
To learn more about the specific dangers of this Halloween favorite, please see the full story below.*
The scariest part of Halloween should be the costumes and haunted houses. But, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns what is lurking in that bag of candy could be more than scary, but downright dangerous.
The federal agency says too much black licorice can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, as well as high blood pressure, lethargy, and congestive heart failure.
“Black licorice contains glycyrrhizin, a chemical compound that can trigger a dangerous drop in potassium levels. When potassium runs low, heart rhythms fluctuate and blood pressure can rise causing swelling, stupor, even heart failure – where sufficient pumping action ceases and blood flow is reduced to the rest of the body,” explains Dr. Srinivas Iyengar, a cardiologist at Bradenton Cardiology Center.
This warning only applies to real black licorice, not artificially flavored licorice made with anise oil.
How much is too much?
According to the FDA, consuming two ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks could land someone in the hospital with a heart arrhythmia. People over the age 40 are most at risk.
“Those with high blood pressure, heart disease or kidney disease are even more susceptible to black licorice’s effects,” Dr. Iyengar says.
It is not just this time of the year black licorice intake needs to be monitored. Dr. Iyengar says licorice should be avoided for at least two weeks before planned surgery because it can interfere with blood pressure during and after the procedure.
The good news is as soon as a person stops consuming the candy, potassium levels are quickly restored.
Dr. Iyengar recommends avoiding eating large amounts of black licorice at one time, and tells patients to alert a doctor if they notice an irregular heart rhythm or muscle weakness.
“Black licorice can also interact with some medications and dietary supplements, so talk to your doctor if you eat the sweet regularly,” he shares.
About Bradenton Cardiology Center:
Bradenton Cardiology Center is a full service heart center. Founded by Doctors George Thomas and Ballard Smith in 1984, the team of cardiologists has expertise in all areas of invasive and non-invasive cardiac testing and treatment. The center is a complete cardiac care facility. Bradenton Cardiology Center offers superior care in medicine while providing a personal, compassionate approach in patient care.
For more information, visit www.BradentonCardiology.com.