Black Death? Why You Should Take It Easy On That Licorice
From the “Sucks to be over 40 file”:
Halloween is upon us, and this means several things for parents. Besides last minutes costume adjustments for demanding children it also means attempting to stem the tide of candy about to wash over your child. While some parents take a relative laissez faire approach to their child’s candy consumption, other parents do their best to run a sort of interference, and try to limit their child’s post Halloween consumption to less than 100 grams of sugar (per hour). No matter what your Halloween candy policy might be, there is always left over candy in the trick or treat bag that is either too weird or too unappealing for your child indulge in, and it is up to parents to dispose of as they see fit. One usual suspect in this line up is almost always black licorice. Most kids just don’t develop a taste for it until adulthood, and therefore it is left to parents to begrudgingly consume it. But not so fast parents, unless of course you want to wind up face down in the driveway on November 1st.
While I am overstating the danger involved in black licorice consumption, it is true that the FDA has issued a warning, not to children, but to adults not to consume excessive amounts of black licorice. Why you ask? Well, even though your children can consume their weight in candy and seemingly survive the metabolic disaster that sugar had inflicted, adults (over the age of 40) consuming excessive amounts of black licorice can actually overdo it, to a degree that may adversely impact their health. Sure you can consume too much of anything (including some of the healthier items like coconut water, flax seeds and the like) but eating two ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land you in the hospital with an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia. So stop eating it now before you hit that 14-day mark!
According to a report, FDA experts say black licorice contains the compound glycyrrhizin, which is the sweetening compound derived from licorice root. Glycyrrhizin can cause potassium levels in the body to fall. When that happens, some people experience abnormal heart rhythms, as well as high blood pressure, edema (swelling), lethargy, and congestive heart failure. So while your child is jittery and bouncing off the walls after consuming countless chocolate treats, you (my 40-year plus brethren) might be clutching your chest with licorice sweet breath.
If you have a fondness for black licorice, FDA is offering this advice:
• No matter what your age, don’t eat large amounts of black licorice at one time.
• If you have been eating a lot of black licorice and have an irregular heart rhythm or muscle weakness, stop eating it immediately and contact your healthcare provider.
• Black licorice can interact with some medications, herbs and dietary supplements. Consult a health care professional if you have questions about possible interactions with a drug or supplement you take.
But really, if you are consuming this much black licorice, for days on end, you likely have larger problems than low potassium levels and possible heart failure. Try to enjoy the holiday, vicariously through your children, or at least in moderation, with a taste of black licorice here and there but with the awareness that, on this day of the dead, it is better to be of the living.