Chocolate lovers beware and please don’t lose your cool…this article is all about carob. For decades, hippies and natural health advocates have tried to convince people that carob is a healthy alternative to chocolate, but chocolate lovers never really bought in. Of course, strong evidence now exists that suggests good quality dark chocolate is not something we need to fear. So…the goal here is not to try to convince you that carob is a substitute for chocolate…it’s not. But is is a remarkable plant that deserves its time in the spotlight.
Carob is not chocolate. It may look like chocolate and even maybe act like chocolate, but it is actually from an entirely different plant. Carob is made from pods grown on the carob tree, or Ceratonia siliqua and is native to the Mediterranean, while chocolate comes from cacao beans that are also grown in tropical pods. Once processed, these two substances are easily confused since they have a similar color and are both made into powder and chips. Unsweetened chocolate is usually bitter while carob has a naturally sweet, roasted flavor that is entirely different from its more famous counterpart.
Though you may not have heard of carob before, it is a nutritional powerhouse and is a healthy chocolate alternative with a unique taste and impressive health benefits. Here are just a few reasons to check out carob today.
Diarrhea is never fun but is an inevitable part of life. Whether you have the flu, ate something bad, or are just having an off day, loose stools are bound to strike some time. When they come, it is good to be prepared with an extensive arsenal to fight off diarrhea and restore normal bowel function. No diarrhea crisis kit is complete without carob chips. Studies have shown that carob’s high tannin content is responsible for its digestive soothing capabilities. Tannins are water-soluble polyphenols that have a binding effect on the mucous membranes of the intestine. Next time you experience diarrhea, try making a warm drink with carob powder or snacking on a handful of carob chips.
Can help satisfy sugar cravings
We all get that urge for something sweet every once in a while. Instead of reaching for unhealthy food full of processed sugar that can damage your body, whip up a healthy dish with carob chips. You won’t need any added sugar since carob is naturally sweet, but a little bit of stevia may help you adjust to the unexpected flavor when you first try it.
Carob has a double benefit when it comes to preventing obesity. It can prevent you from eating unhealthy sugar, plus the insoluble fiber can improve digestion and help you feel full for longer. In fact, studies have shown that carob fiber can actually improve fat oxidation and decrease levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin following a meal, which makes it an excellent tool for any weight loss regimen.
Most of those who have chosen to stick to a vegan diet or are lactose intolerant would list chocolate as one of the things they miss the most. Unlike chocolate, carob is totally dairy free, so it is an excellent substitute for those following a strict non-dairy diet.
Carob is also free of caffeine, which makes it ideal for those with high blood pressure, migraine, or anyone with a caffeine sensitivity.
Rich in antioxidants
According to studies, this tropical plant is rich in polyphenol antioxidants, which can help protect the body’s tissues against oxidative stress and associated pathologies such as cancers, coronary heart disease, and inflammation. Antioxidants contribute to heart health and help reduce free radicals in the body.
If you have pets, you know how dangerous it is for them to eat large quantities of chocolate. Unfortunately, they also have a nose for it and seem to be able to find it no matter where you hide it. Carob is totally pet-friendly since it doesn’t contain high levels of theobromine, which is a compound in chocolate that can be toxic to dogs. In fact, many dog treats are even made with carob!
Ways to eat more carob
- Add powder to smoothies
- Replace chocolate chips in healthy cookie recipes
- Make a hot carob drink instead of hot chocolate
- Make carob brownies
- Sprinkle carob chips or powder on yogurt
- Make your own trail mix with your favorite nuts, coconut flakes, dried fruit, and carob chips.
- Carob pudding is delicious!
- Enjoy a handful of carob chips for breakfast with almond butter or peanut butter and a banana.
It takes a little while to get used to the taste, but once you do, you’ll never look back. Carob chips are a wonderful, healthy, sweet treat. Remember, they do have natural sugar, so moderation is key!
What do you think of carob? Let us know in the comments below!
-The UpWellness Team