Bad news for black licorice lovers: New research suggests consuming two ounces—about the size of two Twizzlers—of black licorice daily for at least two weeks could increase your risk of irregular heartbeats or worse, heart failure.
Sure, that may seem like a lot of licorice to consume, but it’s still a very important thing to know. Black licorice root contains a medically active compound known as glycyrrhizic acid, which has long been researched and is known to lead to health complications. Glycyrrhizin increases blood pressure, which can contribute to irregular heartbeat, and in some cases, heart failure. This compound has also been known to negatively interact with other medications, according to the FDA.
The FDA is now warning that regardless of your age, you should avoid eating large amounts of black licorice, especially if you are over 40 with a history of heart disease.
Glycyrrhizic acid is clearly quite dangerous, but the odds of consuming large amounts of black licorice are generally smaller than what Americans are consuming of another very dangerous ingredient. The culprit is sugar, and frankly, it’s almost an epidemic. Although sugar won’t necessarily react in the same way as the compound in black licorice, over time, it can have lasting effects on health including obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, tooth decay, and diabetes. And yet, even with all the warnings against sugar consumption, we still consume it in high amounts.
From desserts to beverages, sugar is found in just about anything we consume.
As mentioned, there are very strong warnings against sugar consumption, yet it seems that as a nation, we have developed an addiction. As a result, cases of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease continue to climb.
Generally, we should cut back on all sugary items, not just black licorice, as a means of protecting our health. This means eating more whole foods, not those that come from a package. Furthermore, we need to seriously break up with dessert and candy. You don’t need dessert after each meal, and that 3 PM chocolate bar or late-night cookie isn’t doing you any favors. We need to develop healthier choices and surround ourselves with better options.
Don’t fill your work desk or at-home pantry with baked or packaged goods or else you will be tempted to eat them, which exacerbates the main problem. Instead, surround yourself with healthy options like nuts, seeds, fruit, and vegetables that will not only keep you satisfied but healthier too.
Related: 16 superfoods for a healthy heart