My name is Birgitte, I am a Dutch nutritionist and sport biomechanist. This is my fourth article on expatsHaarlem.. and surely not the last one. I have a project for you: The Dutch Healthy Food ABC. I will take the Dutch alphabet as source of inspiration for Dutch Healthy Food ingredients and recipes: every week I will take a new letter and every week I will give you a new healthy food ingredient description and recipe with that ingredient. My next weekly Dutch Healthy Food column will be published next Wednesday here on expatsHaarlem. Let’s start now: the letter D!
DROP (English: LICORICE)
Although licorice is typically seen as candy and therefore unhealthy, it also has positive medicinal effects.
Licorice (Glycyrrhina Glabra) is a plant and grows in parts of Europe (Greece and Turkey) and Asia. The active ingredient is glycyrrhiza which has been used as medicine and in food for thousands of years. It is used to treat various illnesses ranging from common cold to liver disease. It acts as a demulcent, soothing, coating agent and helps to get rid of phlegm.
Originally licorice was made of the plant Glycyrrhina Glabra. For the taste sal ammoniac, sugar and other sweeteners were added. The licorice was bound by Arabic gum. Nowadays to make the candy licorice, starch or gelatin is used. People who regularly eat a large amount of licorice may get high levels of the hormone aldeosterine in their blood. This can cause headaches, high blood pressure and heart problems. For people who already have a high blood pressure or heart or kidney disease as little as 5 grams a day can have serious side effects. These effect only occur when you eat the candy made from the licorice plant.
So is licorice unhealthy?
A large amount of candy sold as licorice in the Netherlands is not made from the licorice plant but from anis and black dye. Therefore eating this kind of “licorice” will not have the above mentioned side effects, however it still contains a lot of unhealthy calories. It is therefore better not to eat a lot of licorice. If you need something to eat/snack between meals, take some vegetables or fruit, more vitamins and minerals and less calories!!