Zoe Blarowski October 28, 2015
It’s time to stop thinking of carob as a lowly chocolate substitute. Carob is a tasty, nutritious food in its own right and there are many reasons to try including it in your diet.
Carob is made from the sweet seed pods of Ceratonia siliqua, native to the Mediterranean region. The ripe, dry pods are typically ground into carob powder, also called carob flour.
Commercially, carob pods are processed into locust bean gum and used as a thickening agent in various prepared foods.
Carob is naturally caffeine-free, which is good news for those of us who are sensitive to the caffeine in chocolate.
Also, products with carob, such as carob chips, tend to be vegan and dairy-free as well.
2. High in Vitamins and Minerals
Carob is particularly high in calcium and iron. It’s also a good source of riboflavin, folate, niacin, vitamin E, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium, as well as being very high in dietary fiber.
Carob syrup may be available in your local natural or imported foods store, typically imported from Greece. It’s reported to have even higher amounts of calcium and minerals due to its concentrated form.
3. Reduces Cholesterol
The high fiber content of carob has been linked to lower cholesterol levels. A 2010 study found that participants who ate specifically carob fiber twice a day reduced their blood cholesterol after a period of 4 weeks.
Various types of polyphenols are also found in carob. These plant-based compounds control cholesterol in similar ways to dietary fiber. Researchers felt this may also have played a role in the positive results of the study.
4. Cancer Prevention
The polyphenols in carob have been shown to have considerable antioxidant activity.
Studies have found that extracted carob polyphenols inhibited various human cancer cells, in particular cervical cancer cells.
5. Blood Glucose Regulation
Carob helps keep blood sugar at normal levels due to its high amount of fiber. The insoluble fiber helps to bind water and promote healthy functioning of the intestinal tract. This aids digestion and the natural maintenance of proper insulin levels.
6. Digestive Aid
Carob has been used traditionally as a treatment for diarrhea. A recent study proved that carob bean juice can effectively treat diarrhea in young children, and presumably adults.
It has also been shown that the tannins in carob help to prevent harmful bacterial growth in the intestines.
7. Safe for Pets
Cocoa and chocolate contain theobromine, which can be toxic to some mammals. Carob has significantly less of this harmful substance and it can be safely used to make chocolate-flavored dog treats.
8. Has Many Different Uses
Carob is more versatile than it might seem at first glance. Try some of these suggestions to get started.
- Mix carob powder into milk or non-dairy alternative to make a drink similar to hot chocolate
- Replace cocoa powder with carob powder in any of your recipes
- Add 1 teaspoon to regular or non-dairy yogurt
- Substitute carob chips for chocolate chips in cookies, cakes and muffins
- Add 1 tablespoon of carob powder to bread to create a richer flavor and color
- In Spain and Germany, the seeds are roasted and used instead of coffee