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Does Eating Black Licorice Raise Your Blood Sugar?

By Janelle Commins ; Updated August 14, 2017

Black licorice root is a medicinal plant that has no calories, or sugar, and does not cause elevation in blood sugar. Black licorice candy, on the other hand, is high in sugar or corn syrup and will quickly raise your blood sugar levels. Always ask your health-care provider if you are concerned about elevated blood sugar.

Licorice Root

Black licorice root is an herb used to soothe peptic ulcers, sore throat and bronchitis. It has no known ill-health effects on blood sugar levels. Peeled licorice root is available in dried or powdered form. It is commonly brewed as a tea or taken as a pill. According to the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, taken in large doses, licorice root is suspected to cause water retention and to raise blood pressure.

Black Licorice Candy

Black licorice candy is a sweet, chewy candy sold in sticks or small pieces. Black licorice candy is high in sugar. Ten small pieces of black licorice contain 150 calories including 18 grams of sugar or the equivalent of about 5 teaspoons of sugar. This amount of sugar is enough to elevate your blood sugar level; in fact, the glycemic index, or GI, score for black licorice is 78, making it a high-GI food.

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Glycemic Index, Explained

The glycemic index is a tool that diabetics and people watching their blood sugar level use to predict how much a certain food will elevate their blood sugar. It is very important that people with diabetes do not undergo extreme rises and falls in their blood sugar because this can make them very sick. The glycemic index score represents how much a certain food, like a serving of black licorice, raises blood sugar in comparison to 50 grams of pure glucose or refined white bread. Foods with a GI score of 75 or higher are considered high-GI, and should be eaten in moderation or consumed with high-fat or high-protein foods to slow digestion and absorption of the sugar.

Considerations

Some manufacturers make sugar-free varieties of black licorice candy, which do not elevate blood sugar levels. However, consuming too much sugar-free food can create a preference for very sweet foods and also move people to over-eat carbohydrates. Black licorice candy is a once-in-awhile treat, with some medicinal benefits derived from the licorice extract. Check the ingredient label to determine whether natural licorice extract is used, versus artificial anise flavoring.

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