Experts Explain Why Black Licorice Could Be Bad for You

Photo credit: Jose A. Bernat Bacete
Photo credit: Jose A. Bernat Bacete

From Good Housekeeping

  • A new case study suggests that eating black licorice daily could impact your heart health due to a natural compound within the sweet treat.

  • Health experts say the compound impacts your potassium levels and, when consumed frequently, could lead to issues like heart attacks, stroke, or even death.

  • A doctor shares how you can safely enjoy black licorice, plus tips for decoding nutritional labels in search of the ingredient.

Candy lovers are facing renewed warnings about the potential side effects of black licorice as we draw closer to Halloween, as health officials react to news of a black licorice-related death. According to The New York Times, a 54-year-old Massachusetts man with no previous complications suffered critical cardiac arrest in 2019, collapsing in a McDonald’s, and later died the next day while at the hospital. Researchers and academic experts explored the curious

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Death by Licorice; Prone Position ECG; Inhaled Aspirin

A man died of cardiac arrest after eating too much licorice. (New England Journal of Medicine)

Kids’ hearts are literally working harder during the pandemic. (STAT)

Autopsies of COVID-19 cases showed lymphocytic myocarditis in 14% but increased macrophage infiltration into the heart in 86%, perhaps because of systemically elevated proinflammatory cytokines. (European Heart Journal)

Abdominopelvic ultrasound or CT showed thromboembolism in 11% of COVID-19 patients in one large series. (American Journal of Roentgenology)

Mayo Clinic reported a 5.2% rate of symptomatic thromboembolic events in its hospitalized COVID-19 patients. (Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology)

Prone positioning for severe COVID-19 changes ECG readouts in a way that can be interpreted as anteroseptal infarct, so notation is critical and vectorcardiograms are useful. (JAMA Internal Medicine)

It may be moot given hydroxychloroquine’s lack of proven efficacy, but a modest-sized study suggested arrhythmic

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A Man Died After Eating a Bag of Black Licorice Every Day

He had no history of heart problems. He walked his dog regularly and worked a physically demanding job as a construction worker, according to his doctors.

Then, in January 2019, he collapsed at a McDonald’s and died.

The likely culprit? Black licorice, according to the doctors who treated him and who this week published their findings about the unusual case in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The report said the man, an unidentified 54-year-old from Massachusetts, had consumed one to two large bags of black licorice a day for three weeks. That habit caused his potassium levels to drop precipitously, prompting a cardiac arrest, according to the study. He never regained consciousness after his collapse and died about 24 hours after he arrived at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“We almost didn’t believe it when we figured it out,” said Dr. Jacqueline B. Henson, who treated the man while she was

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