Are you expecting, or know someone else who is? You’re going to want to add licorice to that laundry list of foods not to eat for the next nine months then — because this dark candy has a dark side too.
A new study out of Finland, published in the Journal of American Epidemiology has found that women who ate large amounts of licorice during their pregnancy (and ingested over 500 mg per week of the suspected chemical compound that makes the treat taste sweet, glycyrrhizin) produced children with lower IQs — seven points below their peers — than those who consumed little to none of the sweet treat.
And the bad news doesn’t stop there. The research, led by Katri Räikkönen, a professor of psychology at the University of Helsinki, which tracked over 375 children, found that the licorice-gorging mothers also ended up birthing kids who went into puberty earlier than their counterparts.
According to these findings, it boils down to one of the natural chemical compounds found in licorice: glycyrrhizin.
“The present findings suggest that pregnant women should be informed that consumption of licorice and other food products containing glycyrrhizin may be associated with harm for their developing offspring,” the study reads.
So how much licorice is too much licorice? Unfortunately, the jury’s still out. Scientists were unable to determine exactly where that line should be drawn, which means you may want to stay away from the treat until more research has been done.
We don’t know about you, but these findings aren’t leaving a very good taste in our mouths. In fact, we’re going to go eat a piece of dark chocolate and call it a day. Science hasn’t managed to ruined that delicious treat for us yet, have they?!