This snack may increase risk of high blood pressure, heart problems

Licorice, a low-growing shrub cultivated mainly in Greece, Turkey, and parts of Asia, has roots that have been used in both Eastern and Western medicine for centuries.

Traditional uses for licorice root include treating ailments such as heartburn, stomach ulcers, bronchitis, sore throat, cough, and some viral infections like hepatitis. Beyond its medicinal uses, licorice is also popularly consumed as a snack, especially in the form of black licorice.

However, recent findings from a study by the FDA have raised concerns about the potential health risks associated with consuming large amounts of black licorice.

According to the study, individuals who consume two ounces of black licorice daily for at least two weeks may experience detrimental effects on their heart health, especially if they are over 40 years old.

The root of the problem lies in glycyrrhizin, a sweetening compound found in licorice root.

Glycyrrhizin can cause potassium levels in the body to drop, which may lead to several serious health issues, including abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia), high blood pressure, swelling, lethargy, and even congestive heart failure.

The FDA’s research indicates that the risk is particularly pronounced in people over the age of 40 and those with existing risks for heart disease. Previous studies have also linked excessive consumption of black licorice to increased blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.

Interestingly, the adverse effects of black licorice are not permanent. The study notes that once individuals stop consuming black licorice, their potassium levels typically return to normal without lasting health issues.

However, the interaction of black licorice with certain medications, herbs, and dietary supplements adds an additional layer of risk, necessitating caution.

Given these findings, the FDA advises that even healthy individuals should be cautious about consuming large amounts of black licorice.

Those who experience symptoms such as irregular heart rhythms or muscle weakness should discontinue eating black licorice immediately and consult a healthcare provider.

This study highlights the importance of moderation and awareness of the ingredients in our snacks and traditional remedies, especially for those with existing health concerns or those who are older.

While black licorice can still be enjoyed, it should be done so responsibly to avoid potential health complications.

If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies that early time-restricted eating could help improve blood pressure, and natural coconut sugar could help reduce blood pressure and artery stiffness.

For more information about blood pressure, please see recent studies about added sugar in your diet linked to higher blood pressure, and results showing vitamin D could improve blood pressure in people with diabetes.

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