It’s not everyone’s favorite candy – in fact, licorice tends to divide opinion – with some people loving it but others not. But it is a candy that has been around since the 16th century and whilst the licorice root is commonly used in cooking and herbal medicine, what benefits does licorice candy have, if any?
How licorice can be used?
Licorice candy can be both eaten and used in baked and cooked dishes. There is a natural sweetness to licorice that makes it ideal for use in drinks and medicines. In fact, you’ve probably come across it as an ingredient in products more often than you think.
But like all ingredients and substances, licorice is something you should consume in moderation. But what about licorice candy?
Licorice candy – what’s in it?
Also known as licorice confectionery, this flavorsome candy has been around for some time. You could argue it was one of the original sweet treats that our ancestors from centuries ago discovered.
In its natural form, licorice root is both pungent in flavor and scent, something that can be tampered with heat. It is through this treatment and combining with other ingredients that we get licorice candy products.
Although licorice confectionery can have a fairly pungent flavor, the amount of extract used in its production is low. Like chocolate, the way to spot a quality licorice candy product is to examine the ingredients. The higher the concentration of extract included in the product, the more flavorsome it will be.
Combined with sugars and corn syrup and in many cases an edible waxy substance, you have candy that is moreish. But what are the health benefits of the candy version of licorice?
Are there any health benefits of eating licorice candy?
The natural assumption is that because of the relatively small amount of licorice used in candy and its combination with sugar, candy products are bad for your health.
In large quantities, any substance has a detrimental effect on health, especially if it is consumed for a long period of time. Neither is it being suggested that licorice candy should be used instead of medication or seeking medical help if you feel unwell.
That said, there is a small body of research that suggests some black licorice candy can, in small doses, be helpful in the control of some ailments.
Licorice root, the natural form of this product, is known to have some beneficial properties such as being an effective anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant. There is some evidence it can be useful in controlling asthma symptoms too.
But what about licorice candy? There is some evidence that the base components of licorice are unaffected by turning it into candy. Glycyrrhizin acid, for example, remains present in the licorice and has some health benefits when consumed in small amounts.
How much should I eat?
Like all candy and sweet treats, you should eat licorice candy in moderation and rather than being hung up on its health benefits, enjoy black licorice products for what they are – an occasional and delicious treat!