Health Benefits Of Carob: Not Just Another Chocolate Substitute
If you have been a regular visitor to my blog, then you know I love the taste of raw cacao and dark chocolate. The more cacao content and bitterness the better. I always like to blame my Belgian genes for my chocolate love, or should I call it a chocolate addiction. Luckily I’m living far from the source these days which enables me to manage the temptation.
Recently, the internet has been buzzing about a chocolate substitute, called carob. Ceratonia siliqua or the carob tree produces sweet seed pods. Often sold in flour form, carob is used as a substitute for chocolate, dairy products, and cereal. While it took me a while to get hold of this emerging superfood, I finally got to try it the other day.
Though it is definitely a great substitute to add to baked goods desserts or smoothies, nothing beats the real bitter taste of the purest and darkest chocolate available. But that’s just my personal taste. Many people actually prefer carob over raw cacao since it solves their allergy problem to cacao and raw carob is subtly sweet and not at all bitter with a pleasant almost caramel-like taste.
Given its natural sweetness, it doesn’t require as much sweetener when used in traditionally prepared “chocolate” desserts like fudge, puddings, drinks, pies or cookies. But, there are more reasons to appreciate this emerging superfood. If you’re a bit hesitant to try it, maybe it’s time that you learn about the impressive health benefits of carob.
ALSO READ: Cacao vs Cocoa — Aren’t They The Same Thing?
#1 Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Carob is high in iron, calcium, and dietary fiber which helps to reduce cholesterol. Other vitamins and minerals present in carob include vitamin E, potassium, riboflavin, folate, zinc, niacin, copper, magnesium, and selenium.
#2 Weight Loss
The fiber found in carob is special because it prevents the secretion of postprandial ghrelin, a hormone that reminds the body that it’s hungry. With this, you can say that carob can prevent overeating.
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Even if you have a caffeine sensitivity, you can enjoy carob since it doesn’t have caffeine despite tasting like chocolate (which, as you know, contains the stimulant).
#4 Boosts Digestion
Carob contains tannins which prevent harmful bacteria from growing inside your intestines. It’s also traditionally used to heal diarrhea, especially in children. And since it is high in dietary fiber, you can expect carob to prevent other digestive problems like irregular bowel movement, release of too much gastric juices, and much more.
#5 Less Sugar
Most chocolate bars are loaded with sugar. So, if you’re diabetic (or even if you’re just on diet), carob is the better choice. It has less sugar and has 1/3 calorie content compared to cocoa. Simply put, carob makes it easier to keep your blood sugar in check.
ALSO READ: Easy Ways to Quit Sugar
#6 Cancer Prevention
Carob contains polyphenols, which are among the most remarkable micronutrients in terms of the benefits they provide. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants, preventing the development of cancer. Here’s another interesting piece of info – germ flour made from the seed pods have exhibited cytotoxic activity towards cancer cells. That means carob can kill those malignant growths.
#7 Many Other Uses
Carob is not only used in making sweets. You can also use it in baking pastry and in preparing refreshing beverages. Given its naturally-pleasant flavor, carob can easily be added to various recipes. It can also be made into a gum, which is a useful ingredient in cosmetic products. Try checking the labels of the products you use. Surely you’ll find carob listed as C. siliqua.
The health benefits of carob make it a superb chocolate substitute. Besides, it’s approved by the FDA, so it is safe to eat. Experts may have found side effects like allergies, but it is rare according to their tests. Is there any harm in eating too much of it? Well, it’s naturally high in saturated fat. Unless you’re aiming for maximum caloric gain, moderate eating is advised. But all in all, substituting your diet with carob is highly recommended.