- Carob works as a chocolate substitute, to some
- 5 Carob Health Benefits + Nutrition & How it Beats Chocolate
- What is Carob?
- Carob vs Chocolate
- Can Dogs Eat Carob?
- 1) Provides Nutrients and Antioxidants
- 2) Digestive Issues
- 3) Cholesterol Levels
- 4) Fat Burning
- 5) Blood Sugar Levels
- Carob Chocolate, Bean Gum, or Powder?
- Carob – Healthier than Chocolate? — BODY DESIGN BY BRIT
- Why Carob vs. Cacao? + Carob Collagen Bites (AIP, Paleo, GF, DF) — The Realistic Holistic
- Instead of chocolate? We use carob
- How do I use carob?
- What Is Carob
- 7 Best New Healthy Chocolates | Eat This Not That
- Carob – Uses, Nutrition, & Health Benefits
- What is Carob?
- Uses of Carob
- Natural Sweetener
- Low In Fat
- May Reduce Cholesterol
Carob works as a chocolate substitute, to some
Q. I recently bought some carob on a whim and now I’m wondering about its nutritional profile. Is it a healthy alternative to chocolate? What are the pros and cons?
A. What is Carob? Carob is native to the eastern Mediterranean, probably the Middle East, where it has been in cultivation for at least 4000 years. The plant was well known to the ancient Greeks, who planted seeds of this plant in Greece and Italy. The pods are ground into a flour that is a cocoa substitute.
Although this product has a slightly different taste than chocolate, it has only one-third the calories (total 1595 calories per pound), is virtually fat-free (chocolate is half fat), is rich in pectin, is non-allergenic, and has no oxalic acid, which interferes with absorption of calcium. Carob is usually used as an alternative to chocolate and you’ll find it in a number of chocolate- formats: as a powder for baking, chips that you can add to cookies, or as a flavoring in candy, baked goods, and hot beverage mixes.
What are the Health Benefits of Carob?
Perhaps the primary benefit of carob as a chocolate substitute is that, un cocoa, carob contains no caffeine or theobromine. Both of these chemicals (which belong to a family of substances called methylxanthines) are stimulants; while caffeine works primarily on the central nervous system, theobromine stimulates the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems.
These stimulating effects are sometimes beneficial, but it’s also possible to be over-stimulated.
Both caffeine and theobromine can cause adverse effects such as sleeplessness, jitters, or anxiety if consumed in excessive quantities.
The amount of caffeine and theobromine in chocolate won’t bother most people but for those who are very sensitive to stimulants, even small amounts can create problems.
Health Benefits of Chocolate Carob doesn’t contain stimulants. However, it also doesn’t contain those flavanols that we hear so much about with dark chocolate. But, in my mind, the biggest disadvantage of carob as a chocolate substitute is that it doesn’t really taste chocolate at all. About all it has in common with chocolate is the color.
Then again, it’s amazing how much of our sense of taste has to do with color. Researchers have found, for example, that if you add yellow food coloring to vanilla pudding, people will say it tastes lemon. And Cheetos without the florescent orange powder don’t taste as cheesy.
Nonetheless, if you’re a real chocolate lover, I don’t think that carob-flavored alternatives are going to fool you.
Nutritional Comparison of Chocolate and Carob
How do chocolate and carob compare nutritionally? Compared with plain cocoa powder, plain carob powder is lower in fat but significantly higher in carbohydrates and sugar. However, nobody eats plain cocoa or carob powder. Products made with either one will have varying amounts of fat and sugar added to them and you need to compare the nutrition facts labels to see how they stack up.
In terms of other nutrients, carob boasts a significant amount of calcium—about three times as much as you’d get from cocoa. But cocoa has the advantage in terms of iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese.—and of course, those flavanols I mentioned earlier. But let’s be frank: most of us aren’t eating chocolate for the nutrition.
The Bottom Line Here’s the bottom line on chocolate vs.
carob: For anyone with a sensitivity to chocolate or any of its active ingredients, such as caffeine or theobromine, carob offers a chocolate- (or at least brown-colored) alternative.
Otherwise, chocolate appears to offer a few extra health benefits. But either way, be sure to keep an eye on how much sugar, fat, and calories are riding along.
5 Carob Health Benefits + Nutrition & How it Beats Chocolate
Carob may be a healthier alternative to chocolate with beneficial effects on blood sugar and cholesterol. It contains no caffeine, and it’s rich in fiber and antioxidants. However, some people say it falls short when it comes to taste. Read on to learn the health benefits of carob, nutrition facts, and interesting ways to add it to your diet.
What is Carob?
Carob is the fruit of the Ceratonia siliqua L. tree, which belongs to the legume family. The tree is native to the Mediterranean region but is also grown in the US and other countries. The fruits are pods, around 10-30cm long, with a wrinkled and leathery surface. The inside of the fruit contains the pulp and seeds [1, 2, 3].
Carob has a nutty, chocolate- flavor. Because of its sugar content, it is naturally sweeter than cocoa. The pods contain tannins that add a bit of bitterness to the taste .
- Rich in fiber and antioxidants
- Improves gut health
- Helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol
- May support fat burning
- Possible allergies in people with peanut or legume allergies
- Chocolate/cocoa tastes better for many
- cocoa, it’s usually mixed with vegetable oils and sweeteners
100 g of carob flour provides :
- 222 calories
- 4.6 g protein
- 0.7 g fat
- 89 g carbohydrates
- 40 g fiber
- 348 mg calcium (~35% RDA)
- 827 mg potassium (~50% RDA)
The fruit is ~50% sugar (sucrose, glucose, and fructose), 3-5% protein, and low in fat (up to 1%). It contains all seven essential amino acids (threonine, methionine, valine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine and lysine) [2, 1].
Carob is an excellent source of calcium and potassium, and also contains magnesium, copper, iron, manganese, and zinc. It is a valuable source of vitamin B6, C, D, and E [1, 2].
The glycemic index of carob is around 40, making it a low glycemic index food .
Carob vs Chocolate
Carob may have some advantages over chocolate. For one, carob does not contain any caffeine or theobromine. These stimulants can cause side effects in sensitive people. Carob is also free from the oxalic acid found in cocoa, a major cause of kidney stones [7, 3].
Carob provides better blood sugar control. Two clinical trials compared the effects of a pre-meal snack (cookies) with either carob or chocolate on blood sugar levels and food intake. People given the carob snack had lower blood sugar levels, reported feeling more full, and ate less food at the following meal .
Compared with semi-sweet chocolate, carob contains less than half the calories, almost zero fat and six times the amount of fiber. It packs ten times as much calcium and more than double the amount of potassium and folate [9, 5]
Chocolate might still have some advantages over carob. For example, cocoa flavonoids may improve cognitive function and enhance mood. But too much cocoa may trigger migraines and acne, while many of its antioxidants are lost during chocolate manufacturing [10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15].
Bottom line? Carob may be a healthy alternative to chocolate, especially for those avoiding caffeine. But it may not please everyone’s taste buds. Many people presented with carob as a chocolate substitute are thoroughly disappointed. Try it as a unique alternative, but don’t expect the same taste .
Can Dogs Eat Carob?
Carob is perfectly safe for dogs. This is because it’s free of caffeine (and other methylxanthines), which is toxic to dogs [17, 18, 19].
And in case you’re wondering, it’s safe for cats for the same reason [17, 19].
1) Provides Nutrients and Antioxidants
Carob is a major source of dietary fiber. The pods and pulp contain mainly insoluble fibers and the seeds pack soluble fiber. Its soluble fiber is made of polysaccharides or long sugar chains (of mannose and galactose). Carob seed extract is also known as bean gum .
The fruits are also a powerhouse of antioxidants. The polyphenols in carob can be divided into three groups [1, 2]:
- Phenolic acids (such as gallic acid)
- Flavonoids (mainly quercetin and myricetin)
- Tannins (mostly proanthocyanidins)
Being a member of the legume family, carob contains some antinutrients such as phytic acid and lectins. Since these are mainly found in the seeds, you can minimize their intake by avoiding the seeds. Heating also helps to destroy antinutrients. Thus, roasted carob powder will be more tolerable than raw carob for those with sensitivities .
The good news is that carob does not seem to reduce the absorption of nutrients from food. In one study, carob gum did not change mineral balance given before a meal. Instead, it acted as a stool-bulking compound without blocking mineral absorption from food .
2) Digestive Issues
Carob bean gum helps gastroesophageal reflux in babies. Gastroesophageal reflux is the technical term for burping up food. In 14 babies, carob bean gum added to formulas reduced both the frequency and amount of regurgitations .
Another clinical trial with 39 babies had similar results: formula with added carob gum reduced regurgitations. Regular intake also slowed stomach emptying .
Carob may improve diarrhea. In a clinical trial, 41 babies (3-21 months old) were given either carob powder or placebo. Carob cut the duration of diarrhea in half. The powder contained 40% tannins, 21% polyphenols, and 26% fiber .
Similarly, carob juice reduced diarrhea in a trial of 80 babies (4-48 months) given with an oral hydration solution. Compared with the hydration solution alone, carob juice reduced the duration of diarrhea by 45%. It also protected against high sodium levels (hypernatremia) .
3) Cholesterol Levels
In a trial of 12 men, carob bean gum (0.75 g fiber per 100 calories food), lowered total and LDL cholesterol after 4 weeks. It also increased the HDL to LDL ratio, which is linked with heart-protective effects .
Familial hypercholesterolemia is a genetic condition that causes high cholesterol levels. In 18 people with the condition, carob bean gum lowered total and LDL cholesterol while increasing the HDL to LDL ratio .
Two other clinical trials confirmed that carob fiber reduces blood fat in people with high cholesterol. At 8 g or 15 g daily, it lowered total and LDL cholesterol, as well as triglycerides [28, 29].
4) Fat Burning
In a clinical trial of 19 healthy people, carob fiber lowered several markers associated with weight gain after a meal. Among others, it powerfully reduced acylated ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Plus, it lowered triglycerides and fatty acids, pointing to carob’s fat-burning action .
5) Blood Sugar Levels
Carob is a source of inositols, including myo-inositol and d-pinitol. Myo-inositol has been researched for combating diabetes, insulin resistance, and eating disorders .
In a trial of 40 healthy people, inositol from carob lowered blood sugar and insulin after meals. It also lowered markers of insulin resistance, which points to its value for people with type 2 diabetes .
In another study, 20g of carob fiber along with a sugar drink kept blood sugar and insulin levels in check. But lower doses (5g or 10g) couldn’t prevent sugar and insulin spikes in 20 healthy people. Also, at least 10g are needed to decrease the hunger hormone ghrelin .
In a trial of 40 people with prediabetes, inositol from carob lowered blood sugar and insulin levels. All people experienced the benefit, but the effect was stronger in non-obese people .
Carob Chocolate, Bean Gum, or Powder?
The studies mentioned above used various forms of carob, most of which are commercially available. You’ll be able to find all of the following:
- Carob powder (go for pure, natural, roasted powder)
- Bean gum
- Carob chocolate and syrup
Try out different products to find the taste you enjoy most – whether you’re seeking a cocoa alternative or simply want to try carob out. But always check the label to make sure the carob you’re getting doesn’t contain added sugars.
Carob powder is usually made from the pods (without seeds). It contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. You can add it to smoothies, shakes, or use in baking. The seeds contain the highest amounts of antinutrients, making carob powder a better option .
Carob chocolate is typically made using around 60% carob powder, which is mixed with vegetable or cocoa butter and sometimes carob syrup. Carob syrup is made from ground pods that are boiled for thicker consistency .
Carob bean gum is a soluble extract made from the seeds. Bean gum is mainly used as a thickening agent and for feeding livestock. It can also be used as a stool-bulking agent for reducing diarrhea .
Carob – Healthier than Chocolate? — BODY DESIGN BY BRIT
Carob powder contains less fat and more carbohydrates, which is opposite of what I would recommend in a diet transition. However, since Carob is naturally sweeter, using it in recipes lets you decrease the amount of added sugar you use to get the same amount of sweetness you would with cocoa.
Both carob and chocolate contain a variety of B vitamins, but carob contains higher concentration of these essential nutrients, including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and folate. They are also sources of many essential minerals.
Carob is particularly high in calcium, containing nearly 100 milligrams per ounce.
Both are rich in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium, but chocolate contains higher concentrations of each of these minerals.
Both carob and chocolate are also sources of dietary fiber, Carob containing 11 grams and chocolate containing 5 grams per ounce. I’m a big believer in the lower the sugar in our diets, the better! So use Carob in moderation.
Chocolate contains about 8 grams of carbohydrate per ounce and cocoa powder 16 grams per ounce, but both contain 0 grams of sugar. Carob flour, on the other hand, provides 25 grams of total carbohydrate and 14 grams of sugar per ounce.
However, many chocolate products may have just as much sugar or more added in, carob being naturally sweet doesn’t have all the additives typically. Carob boasts a significant amount of calcium—about three times as much as you’d get from cocoa.
But cocoa has the advantage in terms of iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese.
Some other considerations when comparing the two that may or may not be important to you, but I’ll let you decide:
— Most chocolate is not fairly traded. You can buy Fair Trade chocolate. Carob beats chocolate readily on issues of Human Rights.
— Chocolate and cocoa products are high in histamines. People who are having inflammatory issues, such as allergies or digestive problems, should avoid chocolate; carob is much more tolerable than chocolate for people who need a Low Histamine Diet.
— Chocolate and cocoa products are acidic to the body. For those people trying to alkalinize their diets, carob is a better choice.
— Carob does contain significant antioxidant activity and more calcium than chocolate. It’s also a good source of B vitamins, vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, and trace minerals iron and manganese. It also serves as a protein source.
Unsweetened carob chips contain about 70 calories per 2-tablespoon serving, with:
• 3.5 grams (g) of fat
• 7 g of sugar
• 50 g of sodium
• 8 g of carbohydrates
• 2 g of fiber
• 2 g of protein
• 8 % of the recommended daily calcium intake
I am definitely not saying one is better than the other. I love chocolate! And I’m just discovering Carob, and so far I’m a fan! They both have their health benefits, and their hang ups.
So I would pay attention to how your body handles each and go from there.
If you have no sensitivities myself, consider incorporating them both in your life in moderation! If you know me, you know I preach a little chocolate a day 🙂
Here’s some tips I got from Whole Foods on how you can try incorporating Carob:
• Replace cocoa powder with carob powder one-for-one in your recipes.
• Or use half cocoa powder and half carob powder in your recipes.
• Substitute carob chips for chocolate chips in cookies, bars, cakes, muffins and candies. (Many of our stores carry unsweetened carob chips, too.)
• Carob can burn! Set your oven 25°F lower when baking with it exclusively.
• Got a recipe calling for baking chocolate? For each square, use 3 tablespoons of carob powder plus one to two tablespoons of dairy or non-dairy milk.
• Add a tablespoon of carob powder to bread dough to make a nice, rich dark color.
• Store carob flour in an air-tight container in a cool, dry pantry; if it lumps up, just sift before using.
And here's the recipe to my Carob – Black Bean Brownies:
Why Carob vs. Cacao? + Carob Collagen Bites (AIP, Paleo, GF, DF) — The Realistic Holistic
When I looked at the autoimmune protocol (AIP) for the first time, I thought “NO CHOCOLATE!? NO WAY!!!”
At first glance, it might seem you have to give up everything you love.
While there are several of our favourite things that we need to step away from (FOR A TIME!) there are so many amazing substitutes and nutritional upgrades that we can make without sacrificing flavour!
Instead of chocolate? We use carob
Carob is made from the edible pods of a carob tree. The pods are dry roasted & ground into a slightly bitter, nutty-tasting powder that is extremely reminiscent of our beloved cacao powder.
Carob beats cacao on a couple of levels.
From an AIP perspective, cacao is avoided because because it is a seeds, which are avoided on this gut healing protocol because they contain phytic acid and digestive enzyme inhibitors. These compounds can irritate and inflame the gut lining leading to leaky gut and dysbiosis – which is exactly what we are trying to combat with the autoimmune protocol.
Although technically carob comes from a bean, which we would also avoid on the AIP, carob is given a pass because we only consume the ground up pod, which does not contain the same compounds, lectins, that we would be avoiding by eliminating beans.
On top of that, carob has some nutritional advantages.
Carb is a fantastic source of calcium, WITHOUT oxalates. Oxalates are a compound that block mineral absorption. This means that other foods, cacao, which contain both calcium and oxalates, are not actually effective sources of calcium.
Carob is also incredibly high in fibre, boasting almost 5 grams for every 2 tablespoons! Fibre is an incredibly important part of the AIP protocol as it helps to feed a healthy microbiome, maintains healthy bowel movements, controls your blood sugar and lowers your cholesterol. In fact, a 2010 study found that the antioxidant polyphenols in carob’s insoluble fibre, lowered total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol in subjects with high cholesterol (1).
Carob also contains tannins, a type of polyphenol, which make it an effective remedy for diarrhea – a common concern for those of us with digestive autoimmune disorders (2).
Carob is completely caffeine-free. Avoiding caffeine, although we don’t eliminate it on AIP, can be important part of the healing process for those of us with adrenal fatigue, digestive concerns or nervous system disorders.
Carob is a fantastic source of antioxidants. The polyphenol antioxidants found in carob, primarily gallic acid and flavonoids, have been shown to reduce oxidative stress. Gallic acid has also proved to scavenge free radicals and fight cancer cells, while flavonoids have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antidiabetic and neuroprotective properties (3).
Swapping cacao for carob may also help to reduce the occurrence of migraines and headaches. This is because cacao contains tyramine, a byproduct of the amino acid l-tyrosine.
The National Headache Foundation has determined that tyramine may be a trigger for migraine headaches.
Carob contains no tyramine and, therefore, may serve as a better option for people suffering from chronic migraines.
How do I use carob?
You can use carob 1:1 any way you may have used cacao or cocoa powder in the past.
It makes a lovely addition to smoothies or coconut yogurt.
You might consider adding it to a paleo bread dough or pancake batter.
I love making a carob hot “chocolate” in the winter and I look forward to my carob avocado pudding most nights.
You can even make your own chocolates carob and coconut manna!
And definitely don’t miss out on the opportunity to use it to make brownies!
Here are some of my favourite carob recipes:
What Is Carob
As a serious chocolate lover, I've never considered giving up my sweet treat of choice, especially since I know it has health benefits. But recently, I was listening to a podcast where the host was raving about carob—a food she claimed tastes “just chocolate,” but might even be better for you.
You may have tried it already, but I immediately felt compelled to investigate. Was I missing out on some crazy awesome health benefits? Could it actually taste—gasp!—better than chocolate? For the sake of chocoholics everywhere, I set off to find out.
(Take back control of your eating—and lose weight in the process—with our 21-Day Challenge!)
First, what is carob?
suto norbert zsolt/shutterstock
So turns out, carob has been a staple in natural food stores since the '70s. I'm actually ashamed that I didn't know what it was, but in case you're in the same boat: Carob is a brown flour- powder extracted from the carob bean, native to the Mediterranean countries where it's often used as a substitute for chocolate. It can be sold as a powder and used wherever you'd use cocoa powder; or combined with oils, emulsifiers, and sometimes sugar and to form carob chips, which you can eat straight or use in place of chocolate chips. (If you don't want to replace chocolate, there are 2 good health reasons to keep eating it.)
Whether or not carob actually tastes chocolate, however, is up for debate—from my recent experience, I'd say it has an earthy, caramel-ish sweetness that almost (but not quite) hits the chocolate spot. Another important thing to keep in mind: Carob contains more natural sugars than cocoa, so you may be able to reduce the amount of added sweeteners you'd normally use in a recipe. Not a bad thing.
MORE: 5 Signs You're Not Getting Enough Vitamin D
The health benefits: carob vs. chocolate
Carob and chocolate are not created equal. For one, carob doesn't contain caffeine and theobromine, two natural chemicals present in chocolate that act as stimulants, says Jessica Levinson, RD, nutritionist at Nutritioulicious.
While the average person may not be affected by these chemicals, people who are sensitive to stimulants (i.e. you're the type of person who gets jittery when you eat chocolate or have small amounts of coffee) may find that carob offers similar enough flavor with none of the side effects.
On the other hand, if you're not sensitive to stimulants found in chocolate, the sweet treat's caffeine can be somewhat beneficial, acting as a neuroprotective agent to potentially help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and other cognitive diseases. As for the chemical theobromine, it widens blood vessels, helping lower blood pressure.
In terms of nutrients, unsweetened carob and cocoa powders have a decent amount of fiber (about 2 g per tablespoon). One drawback to carob, though, is it contains about 3.5 g of sugar per tablespoon, while cocoa has none.
But perhaps the most significant disadvantage to carob, says Levinson, is that it has none of the potent flavanol antioxidants that give dark chocolate its heart-healthy reputation—I mean, that's the reason most people justify eating chocolate in the first place!
Carob is a good pick if you're sensitive to chocolate's stimulants and are careful about its extra sugar, lowering any extra sweeteners you add to baked goods to compensate. (Here are the 9 most popular natural sweeteners.) Otherwise, chocolate wins out in terms of additional health benefits. Regardless of which you choose, keep an eye on how you're eating it: You won't get much benefit from either if you're also downing loads of sugar, bad fats, and calories. Want to give carob a whirl? Try this Carob Coconut Rough Slice from the blog Be Good Organics—loaded with coconut, almonds, and sweetened with dates.
7 Best New Healthy Chocolates | Eat This Not That
Every chocolate lover has their go-to favorite candy that they absolutely cannot live without. But sometimes even the most die-hard Green & Black's fans need to shake up things.
And there are a number of delicious new products on the market that are sure to satisfy even the strongest of sweet cravings—without breaking the calorie bank. The best part? All of them can be purchased right online.
So, all you need to do is click and order for all of your delicious chocolate dreams to come true! Psst! If all of this talk about dessert has left you drooling, check out these 20 Secretly Healthy Chocolate Recipes while you wait for your goodies to arrive in the mail!
Made with fiber-packed tiger nuts (a type of root veggie), maple syrup, cacao powder, sachi inchi (a type of seed), and sea salt, these chocolatey clusters pack an impressive 5 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per serving—all for just 6 grams of sugar! For a sweet treat, those are some pretty impressive nutrition stats.
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Love the idea of eating heart-healthy dark chocolate but can't help but melt every time milk chocolate hits your lips? Filled with a soft milk chocolate center, these dark coated truffles blend the best of both worlds—all for 76 calories and 4 grams of sugar a pop. (Inside scoop: Alter Eco is coming out with even more fun flavors of their truffles in March—mark your calendars!) For even more low sugar ways to quell your sweet tooth, don't miss these 25 Nutritionist-Approved Ways to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth.
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While admittedly these are a bit different than your typical Godiva truffle, we think this chocolaty snack is totally worth trying if you're a health nut with an affinity for all things chocolate. Made with sprouted nuts and seeds, fruit, chia seeds, and organic cacao powder, this low-sugar, nutrient-rich treat is one you can feel good about eating.
Buy them online here, $20.88 (pack of six)
This perfectly portioned (1 oz.) dark chocolate is far healthier than the typical box of cordial cherries—but carries a similar flavor. And with just 140 calories and 13 grams of sugar for the entire bar, you can rest assured that giving into your cravings with this bad boy won't throw you too far off course with your diet plan.
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Since these truffles are made with carob powder instead of actual chocolate, you won't get all of the health benefits found in a conventional dark chocolate bar. What you will get, however, is a caffeine-free, vegan dessert that tastes exactly treats made with cacao.
Another reason to love this snack: Each truffle has 76 calories and just 2.5 grams of sugar—it doesn't get too much better than that when it comes to candy. Looking for even more guilt-free ways to indulge? Don't miss these 20 Healthy Desserts for Weight Loss.
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Crispy quinoa, puffed sorghum, and toasted coconut lend a satisfying crunch to this dark chocolate coated cluster. Theo adds a bit of ground turmeric to the recipe mix to up the health factor of their newest vegan and gluten-free creation.
Buy them online here, $5.99
Despite the fact that the bulk of these protein bites are filled with cane sugar-sweetened chocolate, Enjoy Life manages to keep their snack super low in sugar. Each little ball of deliciousness has just 2.6 grams of the sweet stuff and a mere 56 calories. Pair one or two with a cup of tea or java for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up!
Buy them online here, $6.49
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Carob – Uses, Nutrition, & Health Benefits
Carob may have been done a disservice by being marketed as an alternative to chocolate. While its taste is not as deep and delicious as chocolate, carob has its own merits and health benefits. Let’s find out more!
What is Carob?
Carob usually refers to the fruit or pods of the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua L.). Carob trees are native to the Mediterranean region and the Middle East, but the trees are now found in most parts of the world.
The fruits are long, leathery, brown pods that have sweet, edible pulp and seeds. They are also known as St. John’s bread and locust bean, which stems from the belief that these pods were perhaps the locusts that sustained St.
John in the wilderness.
Carob powders is making a comeback as a substitute for chocolate. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Uses of Carob
Traditionally, carob and its products have been part of the cuisine in the Middle East and Africa for several years. In Egypt, antioxidant-rich carob juice is consumed during the holy month of Ramadan. In Lebanon, carob molasses is a pantry staple and is used in baking. The molasses is also combined with tahini to make a popular dip, debess u tahineh, which can be slathered on toast.
Carob products became popular as sugar alternatives when the health movement swept America and Europe in the 1970s. Carob powder or flour, made from roasted pods, was marketed as a caffeine-free and theobromine-free alternative to cocoa. Other products that appeared on supermarket aisles included carob chocolate, carob cookies, and carob chips.
While carob lacks the bitterness and depth of flavor of chocolate, it has its own unique nutty and sweet taste. What also works for it is that it is naturally gluten-free; it is increasingly being used to make gluten-free baked products.
One of the biggest industrial uses is in the food and cosmetic industry. Locust bean gum or carob bean gum is extracted from carob seeds. It is used as a thickening and stabilizing agent as well as a food additive.
Carob has high sugar content (mainly sucrose, glucose, and fructose), according to a 2016 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
Its health benefits can be mainly attributed to the significant content of dietary fiber, polyphenols, and amino acids. It is also a good source of calcium, with over 300 mg in 100 grams of carob flour.
This is equivalent to the amount of calcium in a cup of cow’s milk. Other minerals in it include potassium and iron.
According to the USDA, 1 cup of carob flour (103 grams) contains 229 calories. It has 50.6 grams of sugar, which equals 4 tablespoons of regular sugar. It has 41 grams of total dietary fiber and 91.5 grams of carbohydrates.
Carob is a natural and healthy alternative to processed sugar. According to the USDA, 100 grams of carob chips contains 34 grams of sugar as compared to 100 grams of branded chocolate chips, which has 66.67 grams of sugar.
Some people can be sensitive to caffeine and theobromine present in chocolate. Excessive caffeine can cause anxiety, insomnia, jitters, as well as headaches. Carob can be used instead as it contains no caffeine and no theobromine.
Gluten is a group of proteins found in cereals wheat, barley, and rye that helps bread and baked products give its viscous elasticity. People with celiac disease or with sensitive digestive systems cannot consume gluten. They can use carob flour, which is gluten-free, to make bread, cakes, and desserts. A lot of gluten-free products in the market use carob extract and products.
Low In Fat
It is low in fat and is used to make low-fat products by the food industry. Carob bean gum is used in low-fat yogurt and the powder is used to make chocolate and candies.
May Reduce Cholesterol
A 2003 human study published in the European Journal of Nutrition revealed that carob could be beneficial to people with hypercholesterolemia. Volunteers with this health condition were given bread or fruit bars with 15 grams of carob pulp every day for 6 weeks.
The test results showed a dip in LDL (bad cholesterol) by about 10 percent and a slight improvement in the LDL: HDL ratio. Also, women saw a marked improvement in their lipid profiles as compared to men, especially in triglyceride levels.
Studies suggest that polyphenol-rich insoluble fiber in carob is responsible for the beneficial effect on blood lipid profile in humans.
Should You Try Carob?
Carob has its own unique flavor and should not be compared to chocolate as its taste is very different. However, if you are looking for a caffeine-free option to make a hot beverage, which can be termed carob tea or carob coffee, go ahead and try it. It is a wonderful natural antioxidant-rich sweetener to have in the pantry.