The sweet taste of licorice may be tempting, but expecting mothers should steer clear because it may increase their child’s risk of disease later in life, London’s Daily Mail reported.
Children exposed to licorice in the womb were found to have up to one-third higher levels of cortisol, a hormone linked to diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, than those who weren’t.
Experts from London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital and the University of Helsinki asked mothers how much licorice they ate during pregnancy and tested their children at the age of eight for cortisol levels.
The mothers of those with higher cortisol levels ate half a gram of licorice a week or more in pregnancy, one-third higher than those who didn’t eat any.
The study authors believe that glycyrrhizin, a naturally occurring, sweet ingredient in licorice, affects how hormone levels are regulated.
“For those who eat a lot of licorice, it may be a good idea to cut down when pregnant,” said Alexander Jones, a clinical scientist at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Twizzlers Black Licorice, a popular product for the Hershey Candy Corporation, issues a warning about glycyrrhizic acid on it’s website, stating:
“In excessive amounts, glycyrrhizic acid has been associated with undesirable side-effects including headache, sodium and water retention, loss of potassium, high blood pressure, and heart irregularities.”