Are you finding yourself craving for sweet foods, especially chocolate? There is a healthy alternative that could help satisfy your urge for chocolate without calories, Carob, but just “what is carob” we hear you ask!
The powder and chips can be used in your favorite recipes but the treat will have less calories, sugars and fats.
For anyone who suffers with gluten intolerance or dietary issues, carob is a superb alternative.
The Carob tree is mentioned in many ancient texts for example ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’ the earliest literary work, makes reference to the Carob Tree.
In Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) carob pods were used to make juices and sweets and the pods were sought after for their many uses.
It is thought, that in the Middle East gemstones and gold were measured against the seeds of the carob tree giving us the word “caret” and one caret is equivalent to 0.2 grams.
The fruit that is borne on the female tree is a legume like peas and in fact comes in a pod just like peas.
The plant is native to North Africa, the Mediterranean region and parts of the Indian subcontinent and these cultures use carob like other nuts and seeds and also substitute carob for chocolate.
Carob is normally sold as either carob powder or chips, making it very easy to get into your diet but if you are now wondering, ‘How do i use the powder?’ fear not! we have you covered.
We’ve put together 4 easy to make, yummy carob recipes HERE that will help you do just that and trust us, they are well worth the effort!
They include a mole sauce, a hot chocolate and some amazing lava cakes. We’ve even sneaked one in for a carob face mask.
The reason carob has health benefits, is down to the vitamins and minerals contained in the fruit.
Included are vitamins A and vitamin B-2, which are good for the health of your skin and eyes.
It doesn’t stop there though! Along with the vitamins mentioned above, carob also has riboflavin as well as the minerals zinc, calcium (twice as much as cocoa), zinc, selenium and potassium.
Wait! theres more…. it is packed full of natural antioxidants!
So what is carob good for when it comes to your health?
By improving the digestive function, helping with weight loss and even providing a defense against some cancers.
In Malta the syrup made from carob pods is a traditional medicine for sore throats and coughs.
For strong and healthy bones we eat calcium, carob is rich in this mineral containing three times more calcium than milk. This helps maintain a regular heartbeat and is essential to blood clotting.
Whilst the selenium maintains our thyroid function and provides protection against infections.
Carob contains tannins, a compound that is contained in plants but they differ from the tannins contained in other plants.
The tannins contained in carob dry out the digestive tract, which prevents the growth of harmful bacteria from toxins that have been ingested.
If you suffer from high blood pressure, the addition of carob could help to naturally lower your blood pressure.
Carob has no caffeine and is high in fibre, a report in the 2010 issue of “Plant foods for human nutrition” states that a 4 gram serving rich in polyphenol fibre was shown to decrease “bad cholesterol”.
This fibre content is special and can help in a weight loss program as it constrains the hormone that informs the body it is hungry so it reduces the need for over eating.
Well, whilst some people will say that the flavour of carob is nothing like chocolate, others will disagree. The colour is similar but the taste might not suffice for a serious chocoholic. Saying that, carob has a wonderful taste of its own!
For diabetics carob is a good replacement for chocolate as it prevents the spikes in blood sugars as it contains far less sugars, calories and also has a fraction of the fat content of regular chocolate.
Both carob and cocoa contain polyphenol, this antioxidant has been shown in research to reduce the risk of heart disease as well as helping to reduce cholesterol levels in the body.
The polyphenols in carob are especially powerful and go a long way to protecting the body from free radical and environmental toxin damage.
This antioxidant polyphenol goes through the body removing dangerous free radicals and help prevent some cancers, as it is a toxic to cancer cells especially those that cause cervical cancer.
The health benefits of carob are worth giving it a try!
This excellent video from Heather Nicholds covers the difference between chocolate and carob in a nice clear, understandable way.
It addresses the fact that the big difference between the two, really comes down to the fact that carob contains no caffeine or theobromine, which is a big plus.
Also being naturally sweet, it does not need the additional sugar that bitter chocolate tends to need.
We hope we have now answered the question “What is Carob?” but please do let us know if you have any other interesting facts about this wonderful plant and food.
Do you eat and love Carob? Or did you try it and hate it? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below…
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