Large quantities of black licorice led to the death of a man who consumed more than a full bag of the snack every day for multiple weeks, according to medical officials.
The 54-year-old man, identified as a construction worker from Massachusetts, died last year after the glycyrrhizic acid found in the licorice took a toll on his body, doctors said in a report published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The man’s heart stopped after he consumed a bag and a half of the candy every day during that multi-week stretch.
He collapsed at a fast-food restaurant during lunch, and after being revived, died the following day. He had low potassium counts when doctors examined him, according to the report. He had experienced a heart rhythm, among other issues, as a result of the low potassium.
“Even a small amount of licorice you eat can increase your blood pressure a little bit,” said Massachusetts General Hospital cardiologist Dr. Neel Butala, who contributed to the report.
Glycyrrhizic acid is in black licorice, among other foods that come from the licorice root extract, and can lead to low potassium and issues with a person’s electrolytes.
The man who died last year had recently switched to black licorice after previously eating red candy twists.