Part of living a healthy lifestyle is regularly performing a variety of physical activities, consuming a well balanced whole foods diet that is nutritionally rich in vitamins and minerals, and ensuring that you get plenty of rest, relaxation, and sleep. In addition, depending on the individual, it is common that one of the specific aspects of living a healthy lifestyle will be consistently more challenging to achieve than the others.
For some individuals, regularly enjoy a variety of different types of candies and sweets. In fact, many occasions include or center around, consuming some type of sweet treat. For example, many couples that get married have a wedding cake at the reception. In another example, Halloween is centered around children dressing up in a costume and going from door to door and receiving a candy treat.
This being said, if you are trying to determine what sort of sweet treats you would like to indulge in this Halloween and which ones you would not, consider removing black licorice from your list, according to a new warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Black Licorice May Cause Heart Concerns, Warns FDA
A new warning from the Food and Drug Administration is stating that the deeply-flavored candy could cause a number of health problems, including heart arrhythmias, when eaten in large quantities. The black licorice heart problems announcement comes just as many households are stocking up on candy in preparation of trick-or-treaters.
The Dangers of Glycyrrhizin
According to experts from the FDA, the dangerous compound found in black licorice is called glycyrrhizin. Glycyrrhizin is what makes licorice taste sweet. The organization found that eating black licorice in quantities of 2 ounces per day for just two weeks could create an irregular heartbeat in certain susceptible individuals.
Once glycyrrhizin is in the body, it causes potassium to excrete from the kidneys. According to cardiovascular medicine professor Dr. Gregg Fonarow of the University of California, having too little potassium can deregulate your heart beat, making it beat out of sync or far too fast.
Glycyrrhizin also causes the body to retain more water and salt, potentially posing problems for those with a history of high blood pressure or heart failure.
Licorice as Medicine?
In some cultures, licorice has been prescribed for centuries because of its supposed medicinal qualities. Depending on the location, you might find licorice billed as a cure-all for everything from viral infections and bronchitis to heartburn. However, the FDA states that no studies have indicated any real medicinal purposes for licorice, regardless of whether it’s red, black or some other color.
However, just because licorice isn’t medicinal doesn’t mean that it’s totally chemically inert. In fact, licorice is unique among other candies because it’s a bioactive food. This means that it can interact with the various metabolic processes that take place in your body. As such, it may also interact with some medications.
Be Careful of Licorice-Medicine Interactions
According to Dr. Fonarow, people taking laxatives, digoxin or diuretics should avoid licorice entirely. That’s because imbibing licorice with one of the above medications could drive your potassium levels down even further, sometimes to a dangerous degree. Other negative side effects of such a combination include a disruption of cortisol metabolism.
Certain studies also indicate that if you’re a woman taking oral contraceptives, eating licorice could increase your blood pressure levels due the same effect that it has on your potassium.
Black Licorice Heart Problems: The Bottom Line
The FDA recommends that individuals of all ages monitor their black licorice consumption. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to give up black licorice altogether.
As with most things, eating black licorice in moderation shouldn’t have any serious health consequences aside from the added sugar and empty calories that you’ll somehow need to work into your dietary regimen. However, if you experience any apparent heart problems after eating a large serving of licorice, your best bet is to call your doctor immediately.