Energy value (calories per serving): Moderate
Saturated fat: Low Cholesterol: None Carbohydrates: High Fiber: High
Major vitamin contribution: Niacin
Major mineral contribution: Calcium
About the Nutrients in This Food
Carob flour, which is milled from the dried pod of a Mediterranean ever- green tree, Ceratonia siliqua, looks like cocoa but has a starchy, beanlike flavor. It can be mixed with sweeteners to make a cocoalike powder or combined with fats and sweeteners to produce a candy that looks like and has the same rich mouthfeel as milk chocolate but tastes more like honey.
Ounce for ounce, carob, which is also known as locust bean gum, has more fiber and calcium but fewer calories than cocoa. Its carbohydrates include the sugars sucrose, D-mannose, and D-galactose. (D-galactose is a simple sugar that links up with other sugars to form the complex indigest- ible sugars raffinose and stachyose.) Carob also contains gums and pectins, the indigestible food fibers commonly found in seeds.
The Most Nutritious Way to Serve This Food
As a substitute for cocoa or chocolate for people who are sensitive to chocolate.
Diets That May Restrict or Exclude This Food
Buying This Food
Look for: Tightly sealed containers that will protect the flour from moisture and insects.
Storing This Food
Store carob flour in a cool, dark place in a container that protects it from air, moisture, and insects. Keep carob candy cool and dry.
Preparing This Food
Measure out carob flour by filling a cup or tablespoon and leveling it off with a knife. To substitute carob for regular flour, use ¼ cup carob flour plus ¾ cup regular flour for each cup ordinary flour. To substitute for chocolate, use three tablespoons of carob flour plus two tablespoons of water for each ounce of unsweetened chocolate. Carob flour is sweeter than unsweetened chocolate.
What Happens When You Cook This Food
Unlike cocoa powder, carob flour contains virtually no fat. It will burn, not melt, if you heat it in a saucepan. When the flour is heated with water, its starch granules absorb moisture and rupture, releasing a gum that can be used as a stabilizer, thickener, or binder in processed foods and cosmetics. In cake batters, it performs just like other flours (see flour).
Medical uses and/or Benefits
Adsorbent and demulcent. Medically, carob flour has been used as a soothing skin powder.
As a chocolate substitute. People who are sensitive to chocolate can usually use carob instead. Like cocoa beans, carob is free of cholesterol. Unlike cocoa, which contains the cen- tral-nervous-system stimulant caffeine and the muscle stimulant theobromine, carob does not contain any stimulating methylxanthines.
Lower cholesterol levels. In 2001, a team of German nutrition researchers from the Institute for Nutritional Science at the University of Potsdam, the German Institute of Human Nutri- tion, Center for Conventional Medicine and Alternative Therapies (Berlin) Nutrinova Nutri- tion Specialties and Food Ingredients GmbH, and PhytoPharm Consulting, Institute for
Phytopharmaceuticals GmbH conducted a study to evaluate carob’s effectiveness in lower- ing cholesterol. For a period of eight weeks, 47 volunteers with moderately high cholesterol levels (232– 302 mg/dL) were fed 15 g of carob per day in breakfast cereal, fruit grain bars, and a drink made from powdered carob pulp as supplements to their normal diet. After four weeks, the volunteers’ total cholesterol levels fell an average of 7 percent and their LDL (low density lipoprotein—“bad” cholesterol) levels fell an average 10.6 percent. At six weeks, the numbers were 7.8 percent and 10.6 percent. There was no effect on HDLs (high density lipoproteins, a.k.a. “good” cholesterol).