Could eating liquorice affect my blood pressure?

Liquorice and high blood pressure

BHF dietitian Victoria Taylor says:

Black liquorice is one of those ‘love it or hate it’ foods. It’s available as soft and hard sweets, and liquorice root is found in some herbal teas, including chai and spice infusions and so-called detox teas.

Liquorice sweets that come dusted (or even crusted) in salt are obviously not the best choice for your heart, but it’s generally safe to eat a small amount of liquorice every now and then.

However, large and even moderate amounts of black liquorice (57g or around 2oz) can have negative physical effects when eaten daily, especially if you are aged over 40 and have a history of cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure.

Large amounts of liquorice can have negative effects when eaten daily

The adverse effects are due to glycyrrhizin, a compound found in liquorice root that is between 30 and 50 times sweeter than sugar and can alter your body’s levels of potassium and sodium, which help regulate body fluid.

Too much glycyrrhizin can therefore lead to problems such as raised blood pressure, fluid retention, muscle weakness and heart rhythm abnormalities (arrhythmia).

The good news is that if liquorice has this effect on you, the changes are not normally permanent. Stop consuming liquorice and your levels of sodium, potassium and fluid should return to normal.

However, if you have experienced any symptoms that may be triggered by liquorice, it’s important to let your doctor know, so he or she can make sure there is no other possible cause.

Victoria Taylor Meet the expert

Victoria Taylor is a registered dietitian with more than ten years’ experience. Her work for the NHS focused on weight management and community programmes for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. At the BHF she advises on diet and nutrition.

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