What weeds smell like liquorice

Does licorice cause impotence? That is how dangerous the candy really is

Some love liquorice, others are downright disgusted with it. Opinions are divided about this sweetness. But is it really true that the products can be harmful to health?

Licorice snails, salmiak, cough drops made from licorice: what exactly is licorice and how healthy or dangerous is it? And did you know that there are verifiable regional preferences when it comes to liquorice?

Licorice: It can be so healthy

Liquorice is obtained from the roots of the liquorice bush, which is found mainly in the Mediterranean region and in Asia. The juice is used here. This contains glycyrrhizin, a secondary plant substance. In the meantime it has been scientifically proven that glycyrrhizin can have a positive effect on health: the plant substance is said to have both antiviral and antioxidant effects and stimulate blood circulation.

Licorice helps against coughs

Liquorice is considered healthy, among other things, because it promotes expectoration, liquefies and has an expectorant effect. Thus licorice can help against the symptoms of a cough. Even the ancient Romans appreciated this: They drank tea made from liquorice, which was supposed to help not only against coughs, but also against various liver ailments and against gastritis.

Remedies - but also a candy

Licorice, as it is sold in every supermarket today, is of course not a pure remedy, but above all a treat. In addition to ingredients such as potato starch and flavorings, it also contains sugar. With around 76 calories per 20 grams, liquorice is comparatively low in calories. Liquorice is still commercially available in the form of tea, for example in pharmacies as a medicinal tea.

Licorice and blood pressure: be careful with larger servings

The actually healthy plant substance glycyrrhizin may, however, also pose a certain health risk: it can cause high blood pressure. Muscle weakness, water retention and edema are also possible side effects. In addition, the consumption of licorice can negatively affect the mineral metabolism: potassium is lost, while sodium is absorbed more. These problems are particularly conceivable with liquorice with a relatively high proportion of liquorice.

According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), caution is therefore advised with such products: Accordingly, various products are available on the market that contain more than 200 milligrams of glycyrrhizin per 100 grams. Those who regularly consume more than 50 grams of these products a day can develop the symptoms mentioned. The consumption of soft, sweet liquorice, which usually has a rather low proportion of liquorice, should not exceed 100 grams a day, according to the health portal "Onmeda".

According to the BfR, another problematic ingredient is ammonium chloride (salmiac) in brine. In higher doses, ammonium chloride leads to metabolic acidosis (hyperacidity) and to impairment of the normal ion balance with nausea, vomiting and neurological disorders.

Risk groups: Refrain from regular consumption

The amount of the plant substance glycyrrhizin is usually not stated on the licorice packaging. For these reasons, it is advisable not to consume larger amounts on a regular basis as a precaution. In addition, there are certain risk groups who should be very careful when consuming licorice. This includes people who suffer from diabetes, as well as consumers with various cardiovascular diseases. Even those who already have high blood pressure should be very cautious about consuming liquorice.

Licorice and Diabetes

Liquorice alone cannot help against diabetes, but its raw material, liquorice root, contains substances that are supposed to help against the disease. The so-called Amorfrutins naturally lower blood sugar levels, protect the liver from obesity and have anti-inflammatory effects.

But licorice does not contain enough cupid routine to have an anti-diabetic effect. According to the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, however, they could act as preventive food supplements or as mild remedies. Because of the additional sugar contained in licorice, diabetics should nevertheless remain careful when consuming the candy.

Does liquorice make you impotent?

The active ingredient glycyrrhizin contained in licorice is said to influence the production of testosterone and thus indirectly cause impotence. Men who are already burdened with a testosterone deficiency should therefore refrain from consuming liquorice to be on the safe side. Although the effect of the active ingredient disappears after a few days, the actual effects have not yet been fully clarified. In contrast, licorice is said to actually boost women's libido.

Licorice during pregnancy: a risky pleasure?

Pregnant women are also a risk group when it comes to consuming liquorice. It is best for pregnant women to completely refrain from consuming liquorice. The reason: Glycyrrhizin could have a negative effect on embryonic development by affecting the functions of the placenta.

Various scientific studies have shown that babies and children whose mothers consumed licorice during pregnancy often had higher cortisol levels. The stress hormone can have different effects in the organism. Among other things, there is the fear that people with a higher cortisol level will react more strongly to stress or find it more difficult to cope with it. The hormone could also promote the development of obesity or diabetes. Impairments in the cognitive area are also conceivable, for example the children could develop concentration problems later.

Low IQ in children due to the consumption of liquorice by mothers

A corresponding study in Finland, carried out by scientists from the universities of Helsinki and Edinburgh, also showed that children whose mothers had consumed a lot of liquorice during pregnancy had a lower IQ at the age of eight. They were also more likely to suffer from various behavioral problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As part of the study, the scientists set an amount of 500 milligrams of glycyrrhizin per week as a risky limit value.

Salmiak and liquorice: what's the difference?

For consumers, the difference between salmiak and liquorice first becomes apparent in the taste: while liquorice products are often quite sweet, salmiak tastes strong and tart. The main reason for this difference in taste is the ingredient ammonium chloride, also known as ammonium salt, which is a flavoring substance in ammonia products.

The following applies: the higher the proportion of chloride, the stronger the salmiac taste. If salmiak, which is usually offered in the form of lozenges, contains two percent of the mineral, the note "Adult liquorice" must be noted on the package. The term "extra strong" is mandatory between 4.49 and 7.9 percent. A higher salary is not permitted in Germany.

Similar to the plant substance glycyrrhizin, ammonium chloride can also have a positive effect on health, for example loosening mucus in the bronchi. In addition, it is characterized by a disinfecting effect. For this reason, salmiak, sometimes also called "strong liquorice", is often used in adults with respiratory problems.

Curiosities about the candy: The licorice equator briefly explained

Perhaps you can confirm this from your own experience: people from southern Germany often tend not to like liquorice. In northern Germany, on the other hand, people tend to love the products much more. This possibly rather subjective observation can certainly be substantiated with figures: The manufacturer Katjes sells more than 80 percent of its liquorice products in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia - said the company's press spokesman, Heiner Wolters, in an interview with the newspaper "Die Welt" . He therefore speaks of a "liquorice equator" that divides Germany roughly at the level of the Main line - to the south of it the residents are hardly interested in the black products. In Bavaria, the slightly derogatory term "Bärendreck" has even been developed for it, while the North Germans affectionately speak of "black gold".

In the north people love liquorice - in the south they don't

Where do these regional differences come from? That is not fully understood. It is possible, however, that the northern German seafarers of past centuries, with their preference for liquorice, ensured that their descendants in the northern federal states still feel connected to it in terms of taste today. Another theory, on the other hand, compares the aroma of the products with the salty sea air, which for North Germans could evoke feelings that are more at home and accordingly positive.

Horse blood in liquorice? A myth!

Another curiosity has to do with liquorice: The delicacy is said to contain horse blood or ox blood. This is definitely wrong, however - the list of ingredients is usually limited to liquorice, sugar, glucose syrup, starch, wheat flour, salt and gelatin.

The "black gold" with a difference: recipe for liquorice ice cream

The Scandinavians have it really good - they naturally enjoy liquorice ice cream on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this delicacy is rarely available in this country. But that's not a problem: If you have a commercial ice cream machine at home, you can easily make the following recipe yourself.

You will need these ingredients:

  • 2 eggs (size M)
  • 4 egg yolks (size M)
  • 80 g of sugar
  • 250 ml whipped cream
  • 250 ml milk
  • 2 teaspoons of purified licorice juice
  • 3 drops of anise oil

First put the egg yolks, eggs and sugar in a heat-resistant mixing bowl - and this in turn over a hot water bath. Beat the ingredients with a hand mixer for about five minutes, until the mixture is creamy and thick. Then put the milk and cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add both portions to the mixing bowl.

Now add the liquorice juice and stir with a wooden spoon until the mass develops a creamy consistency again. However, do not let them boil while doing this. Then place the bowl in a larger bowl full of ice water. Keep stirring until the ingredients cool, then add the aniseed oil.

Now fill the resulting mass into your ice cream machine. When preparing the liquorice ice cream, follow the manufacturer's instructions. Your ice cream will usually be ready in around 30 minutes. During this time, let a large bowl pre-cool in the freezer. Then add the licorice ice cream and put the covered container back into the freezer for about an hour.

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