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Man Gobbles Down So Much Black Licorice, He Dies

(Photo credit PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP via Getty Images)

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A Massachusetts construction worker ate himself to death.

The culprit?

Black licorice.

The unidentified 54 year old man ate a bag and a half of black licorice everyday for a few weeks which threw his nutrients off, causing his heart to stop, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Salty salmiak liquorice, from Nordic countries, is presented in the Disgusting Food Museum on December 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. - Care for some Chinese mouse wine, fried tarantula or sheep eyeball juice? Or how about fried locusts, grasshoppers or virgin boy eggs? These delicacies are among some 80 items featured at the Disgusting Food Museum opening in Los Angeles on December 9, 2018, with the aim of exposing visitors to different cultures and foods and what we may all be eating in the future. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Salty salmiak liquorice, from Nordic countries, is presented in the Disgusting Food Museum on December 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)

“Even a small amount of licorice you eat can increase your blood pressure a little bit,” said Dr. Neel Butala, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who wrote about the case in the New England Journal of Medicine, per the AP. (RELATED: Los Angeles Bans Halloween Parties, Trick-Or-Treating Amid Coronavirus Pandemic)

The man switched from red, fruit flavored twists to the black licorice version of the candy a few weeks before his death last year and collapsed while out at lunch. Doctors reported he had dangerously low potassium which led to irregular heart rhythm and other problems, according to the AP.

Black licorice and other foods containing licorice root extract contain glycyrrhizic acid, which can lower potassium and cause imbalances in electrolytes. Low potassium levels can cause abnormal heart rhythms, as well as high blood pressure, lethargy and congestive heart failure, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Eating 2 ounces of black licorice everyday if you’re older than 40 can send you to the hospital for irregular heart rhythms, per the FDA.

The FDA recommends limiting intake of black licorice in one sitting.