Carob – The Chocolate Substitute!

A recent comment on the chocolate posting led me to post some info on natural Carob. Here are 2 articles that help outline some of its benefits. Highlights include using Carob as a substitute for Chocolate for those who are intolerant or on a diet. Thanks Tia!

The Many Health Benefits of Carob to the Human Body

by Maia Appleby, Demand Media

Add carob powder to milk to make a beverage similar to chocolate milk.
Add carob powder to milk to make a beverage similar to chocolate milk.

Carob is a versatile plant that can serve as a substitute for chocolate for people who are allergic to cocoa or dairy products. Sold in health food stores in bulk and in ready-made products, carob is high in protein and phytonutrients that may protect you from cardiovascular problems and help you maintain your weight.

Chocolate Alternative

Carob is a nondairy alternative to chocolate, offering an option to those with lactose intolerance or milk allergies. It is lower in fat, calories and caffeine than chocolate, so it can be a beneficial substitute if you are trying to lose weight. It is bitter as a stand-alone ingredient, however. When researchers from Purdue University substituted milk chocolate with melted carob chips on unsalted pretzels, they found that taste testers preferred the sweeter dark and milk chocolate over carob but concluded that adding a sweetener to it may make it more palatable.

Fiber and Cholesterol

Eating foods with carob fiber may help lower your cholesterol. In a 2010 “Plant Foods for Human Nutrition” journal article, researchers gave either a placebo or a compound with insoluble carob fiber to 88 people with high cholesterol levels. Those who took the carob fiber lowered their total cholesterol levels by about 18 percent and their LDL levels by approximately 23 percent. They also had lower triglycerides than the placebo group, whose members did not experience any significant changes to their cholesterol levels.

Diabetes

Carob flour is a safe option for diabetics. Each pod from the carob tree contains seeds that growers use to make a gum-like substance called tragasol, which is often used as a stabilizer and thickener in foods such as baked goods, ice cream, salad dressings, sauces, cheese, deli and canned meats, jellies and mustard. Once the gum has been extracted, growers use the seed residue to make carob flour, 60 percent of which consists of protein, according to Purdue University.

Protection Against Cancer

Carob may help prevent some types of cancer, according to German researchers who published a study in the journal “Food and Chemical Toxicology” in 2003. After examining carob fiber, they found 24 polyphenol compounds, 26 percent of which were flavonoids, plant-based compounds with powerful antioxidant properties. It also contained a significant amount of the antioxidant compounds myricetin and quercetin. The researchers believe that carob fiber’s high content of these phenolic antioxidant substances may give it cancer-preventing properties.

Uses

Although some people chew carob fruit as a sweetmeat, its pods are also processed to make flour that is similar to cocoa powder, which you can use to make a beverage similar to chocolate milk or hot cocoa. You can combine carob powder with wheat flour for baking. A finer version of carob flour is also used for confections, such as candy bars. A thick syrup can also be derived by grinding the pods and boiling them in water. In Spain and Germany, people substitute coffee beans with roasted carob seeds.

References

Cooking or baking with carob instead of cocoa may be the healthier choice.
Photo Credit chocolate image by Horticulture from Fotolia.com
Carob is a naturally sweet bean-like pod that grows alongside small flowers on trees throughout the world, according to the NewCrop Resource from Purdue University. Originally used as feed for livestock by the Greeks, its use and consumption expanded into Morocco, Spain and Italy. Its current use is more versatile, as it is typically processed into a cocoa-type flour that is used to flavor sweets. The pods may be ground and boiled in water to produce a thick syrup, and the seeds may be used as an additive to commercial bakery goods, ice cream, salad dressings, sauces, and other food products. Its use and consumption provide various health benefits, so be sure to consult your health-care provider or nutritionist for more information.

DIGESTIVE HEALTH

Eating carob regularly provides the body with various health benefits, according to DietiHub.com. One of the benefits of carob in the diet is its effects on digestive health. Carob helps to regulate the digestion process, while serving as a natural anti-allergic, antiseptic, and anti-bacterial agent. It contains tannins that are rich in gallic acid, which give it its beneficial effects. Additionally, carob provides powerful anti-viral benefits that supply the body with essential antioxidants. This is especially beneficial for people who are suffering from diarrhea, as it reduces acid production and combats related ailments.

REGULATES BLOOD GLUCOSE

In addition to providing health benefits for digestion, carob is an effective agent for regulating blood glucose levels, according to the Prepared Foods Network website. Carob contains fiber that naturally helps to regulate blood sugar levels, which is especially beneficial for people with diabetes. Carob is primarily comprised of insoluble dietary fiber; however, it has similar health benefits to those of soluble fibers. As an insoluble fiber product, carob helps water bind in the digestive tract, which enhances the health of the intestinal tract and regulates blood glucose levels. The effects of carob on the glycemic index may also be powerful, but this is still being studied.

LOWERS CHOLESTEROL

Carob is rich in dietary fiber, which is primarily insoluble, but offers similar effects to those of soluble fiber. According to the Prepared Foods Network website, carob’s health effects include the ability to naturally lower harmful cholesterol levels. This effect is especially beneficial for people who suffer from high cholesterol levels, and are therefore also at risk for heart disease. The cholesterol-reducing effects of carob may stem from its naturally high levels of lignin and polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that are commonly found in plant-based foods. These antioxidants work by binding to stomach acids and cholesterol in order to help them pass through the body and be excreted.

 
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One thought on “Carob – The Chocolate Substitute!

  1. Pingback: Hot Cup o’Carob | gluadys' cookbooks

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