Can you eat liquorice allsorts when pregnant?

In this article we are going to answer: can you eat liquorice allsorts when pregnant, what is liquorice, what are liquorice allsorts, what is the risk of eating liquorice allsorts when pregnant, and what can you eat instead of liquorice allsorts.  

Can you eat liquorice allsorts when pregnant?

No, liquorice allsorts are not safe to eat when pregnant. Liquorice allsorts contains liquorice extract that is not safe to consume when pregnant. 

Liquorice has glycyrrhizin acids that block the activity of an enzyme that helps protect the fetus from high levels of cortisol. This hormone is known as the stress hormone. 

With high levels of cortisol, the neurological development of the baby can be compromised. There is no safe amount of liquorice extract that can be consumed by pregnant women.

What is liquorice?

Licorice or liquorice is the name of a plant known as Glycyrrhiza glabra. This plant blooms a flower with a sweet and aromatic flavor. The liquorice plant is native to Western Asia, North Africa, and Southern Europe. The root from the plant is the part used to obtain liquorice. 

Liquorice has been used for years as a flavoring in candies and tobacco, especially in Europe and West Asia. Also, extract from liquorice plants has been applied in herbal and traditional medicine. 

It has been proven that excessive amounts of glycyrrhetinic acid, a component of liquorice, have adverse effects. The consumption of liquorice has to be closely monitored because it can present unexplained hypokalemia and muscle weakness. 

The sweetness in liquorice comes from glycyrrhizin acid, it can give about 30 to 50 times more sweetness than sugar but the type of sweetness is different from sugar. Liquorice gives a less instant and long-lasting sweetness flavor. 

Liquorice grows best in the autumn two to three years after planting. Countries with a major production of liquorice are India, Iran Italy, Afghanistan, and China. It has been used in a variety of products. 


It has been used as a flavor-enhancing agent in tobacco and as a moistening agent. It can be found in cigarettes, moist snuff, chewing tobacco, or pipe tobacco. In 2009, the FDA banned the use of any other compound except menthol from cigarettes but not for other manufactured tobacco products.

Food and confectionery

It is used in candies and sweets. In most candies, the taste is reinforced by aniseed oil, so the content of liquorice is very low. In countries like the Netherlands, liquorice sweets or drops are very popular. Liquorice allsorts are an example of liquorice confectionery.

It can be mixed with mint, menthol, aniseed, or laurel. 

Traditional medicine

It has also been used in Chinese medicine as an ingredient that harmonizes medicinal formulas. Liquorice is also used in Ayurveda, it is believed that it treats various diseases. 

What are liquorice allsorts?

Liquorice allsorts are a type of sweet or confectionery that is sold as a mixture. They are made from liquorice, sugar, coconut, aniseed jelly, fruit flavorings, and gelatine. Liquorice allsorts were first produced by Geo Bassett & Co in Sheffield, England.

Liquorice allsorts are now produced all over the world. In the Netherlands, they are known as Engelse drop or English liquorice. 

What is the difference between licorice and liquorice?

Licorice and liquorice are the same. It is a Mediterranean plant whose root is used in candies and confections as listed above. Licorice is the preferred spelling in the USA and Canada while liquorice is how it’s pronounced in Ireland and the UK. 

Both spellings are common in Australia and New Zealand. The only difference between both is the spelling. 

What is the risk of eating liquorice allsorts when pregnant?

Liquorice allsorts do contain liquorice extract according to Maynards Bassetts. They do not specify quantity but you need to be cautious because even if side effects of liquorice have been reported with high quantities, there is no safe quantity for pregnant women. 

The main risk with liquorice extract in liquorice allsorts when pregnant is because of glycyrrhizin acid. It is responsible for giving the sweet flavor of licorice. The negative effect that can cause in pregnant women are

  • Increase levels of cortisol 
  • Blocks an enzyme that protects the baby from high levels of cortisol
  • High blood pressure in the mother

All this combined has been proven to cause negative effects on the neurological development of the fetus, especially in the first trimester. Also, it may induce early puberty in female adolescents whose mothers consume liquorice when pregnant. 

Even if products containing liquorice have small amounts, it is not safe to consume them.

The U.S. The Food and Drug Administration and WHO have not warned against licorice intake but the Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland has added licorice as not recommended during pregnancy. 

Also, liquorice allsorts are candies with high sugar content. Per 100 grams of liquorice allsorts, you can eat up to 62 grams of pure sugar. If you are pregnant and have gestational diabetes or rapid weight problems due to hormonal changes, try to stay away from liquorice allsorts. 

What can you eat instead of liquorice allsorts?

The only way to avoid liquorice extract is to avoid liquorice allsorts. If you are craving sweets, look for other candies that have no liquorice in their ingredients. You can look for sugar-free options so you don’t indulge in too much sugar. 

Double-check labels and eat some safe candy for you. Here is a link for sugar-free candy to satisfy your sweet tooth during pregnancy. 


This article answered can you eat liquorice when pregnant, what is liquorice, what is the difference between licorice and liquorice, what is the risk of eating liquorice when pregnant, and what can you eat instead of liquorice. 

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