What are the real benefits of Carob powder?

The carob tree is a medium-sized tree of the Fabaceae family. The Fabaceae family represents the legumes (lentils, chickpeas or kidney beans). The carob tree is a tree species native to the Mediterranean region. It is largely cultivated for its fruit and seeds. Carob seeds are used to obtain carob gum, a food additive. The fruit, Carob, is a large pod that stands out for its surprising taste. Carob has a flavor similar to chocolate when ground into powder. This is not the only good thing about carob (although it is good enough on its own). Indeed, Carob powder would improve memory, intestinal transit and would fight against oxidative stress. Latin name : Ceratonia siliqua L. Botanical family : Fabaceae. Part used : Pod.

To fight against oxidative stress

Carob powder is a source of bioactive compounds, mainly represented by polyphenols and d-pinitol. These last ones confer to Carob powder a very high antioxidant potential. As a result, Carob powder inhibits the production of reactive oxygen species.

Carob powder would protect against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between pro-oxidant compounds and antioxidant defenses, in favor of pro-oxidants. This disorder is a risk factor for many pathologies, such as diabetes, eye pathologies, neurodegenerative diseases, etc.

Advice from the dietician-nutritionist:

  • Start at 1 g per day and gradually increase during one week up to 20 g per day.
  • Prefer uncooked carob powder, to preserve the heat-sensitive nutrients.

To fight against constipation

On average, 100 grams of carob powder contain nearly 40 g of fiber. Carob powder is said to be rich in fiber, more precisely in insoluble fiber. Indeed, the carob powder is extracted from the pod, which is composed mainly of insoluble fibers, to the detriment of soluble fibers.

Fibers are special carbohydrates because they cannot be digested and absorbed by the body: they are in transit in the digestive tract. Despite this, they have several health benefits, such as regulating digestive transit. Insoluble fibers are preferable in case of constipation, because they are not soluble in water. On the other hand, they have the capacity to absorb a large quantity of water, which makes them swell. Because of their size and their indigestible and insoluble nature, insoluble fibers are absorbed directly into the fecal mass, which increases the volume of the stool and rehydrates it. The whole promotes intestinal motricity.

Due to its richness in insoluble fiber, Carob powder is laxative.

Advice from the dietician-nutritionist:

  • Consume 1 g per day and then gradually increase during one week up to 20 g per day of Carob powder.
  • To privilege the cure with jeun, in a cold water to amplify the laxative effect of the powder of Carob.

For diabetics

Carob powder is an ideal ally in case of diabetes. Indeed, the composition of carob powder gives it a low glycemic index, estimated at 15. The glycemic index represents the capacity of a food to increase blood sugar levels. Thus, the lower the glycemic index, the more balanced the blood sugar level, which is desirable in case of diabetes. Furthermore, the glycemic load of carob powder is less than 2 per 20 g consumed (recommended amount), which means that for every 100 g of carob powder consumed, the glycemic load is only 7.3. This is still a low score. The glycemic load is a data from the glycemic index that varies according to the quantity consumed. In summary, Carob powder helps maintain a balanced blood sugar level after a meal.

Moreover, the antioxidant power (provided by polyphenolic compounds and d-pinitol) and its anti-inflammatory potential (effect noted via a scientific study) contribute to prevent cardiovascular pathologies related to diabetes.

Carob powder is interesting for diabetics, as it does not provoke hyperglycemia and helps to rebalance the glycemic load of a meal. Also, it participates in the prevention of cardiovascular pathologies. It proves to be an excellent substitute for chocolate and cocoa powder (sweetened) in culinary preparations, since they have higher glycemic indices.

Advice from the dietician-nutritionist:

  • Add 20 g of Carob powder in your sweet preparations to reduce their glycemic load.
  • Replace or combine the cocoa or chocolate powder with Carob powder.

To reduce cholesterol

A study investigated the influence of Carob powder in 47 volunteers with cholesterol disorders. After the experiment, Carob powder significantly reduced total cholesterol in the blood, including LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol). This power potentially comes from the fiber that abounds in Carob powder. Fiber does have an effect on reducing the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Especially since carob is low in saturated fatty acids. Reducing the consumption of saturated fats helps maintain normal cholesterol levels.

Advice from the dietician-nutritionist:

  • As a cholesterol-lowering treatment:5 g of Carob powder, for 6 weeks before meals.
  • Start with 1 g, then gradually increase to 5 g.

Unfounded reputations

'' Carob powder is a natural appetite suppressant ''

Carob powder is not the most interesting food to reduce one's appetite in order to lose weight. In reality, no food can miraculously make you lose weight or cut your hunger, they can only help, and only if they accompany a total change in lifestyle.

However, Carob powder does not encourage weight gain: it has a low glycemic index, which limits snacking and the storage of sugars and fats. Its unique chocolate-like flavor can also help reduce the amount of sugar needed in some recipes.

Nevertheless, Carob powder is not satiating, its action on weight is rather secondary.

'' Carob powder modifies sleep ''

It is difficult to find foods that promote sleep. However, Carob powder is not included in the list.

The action of carob powder on sleep would be rather neutral: it does not induce sleep, but does not damage it for all that. Indeed, it does not contain any exciting substances, it is low in fat (which can affect the quality of sleep) and its glycemic index is low. A low glycemic index suggests that it provides "slow carbohydrates" throughout the night, which prevents nighttime snacking caused by reactive hypoglycemia.

However, no micronutritional study of Carob powder is available. As a result, many compounds are not dosed, which reduces the chances of Carob powder being used in this case. Moreover, no scientific study has been conducted on this subject.

Nutritional values

*Recommended Daily Allowance

To know more about the plant : The Carob tree

The carob tree belongs to the Fabaceae family. Native to the Mediterranean region, it has spread in recent times to other regions such as California, Arizona, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina. The tree appreciates poor, dry soils and mild climates. It does not tolerate cold. The carob tree can reach a height of 10 meters. Its growth is slow and its longevity is great (more than 500 years).

The reproductive biology of the carob tree is complex, scientists believe that young trees have bisexual flowers, but usually one sex is suppressed during their development. Carob leaves are green and evergreen. They are renewed every two years. The inflorescence of the carob tree is clustered and looks like catkins. They are green tinged with red. After fertilization by pollen, the female flowers turn into fruits that ripen the following summer. The fruit is an uncracked pod, long, flattened and thickened at the sutures. The carob pods are between 10 and 30 cm long and about 2 cm wide. They are composed of two large parts: the pulp which represents 90 % of the fruit and the seeds which fill the remaining 10 %. The pulp is formed by the epicarp (hard shell) and the mesocarp, the internal region, of a yellow color and sweet taste. The seeds are hard and numerous. As for the wood, the sapwood is whitish and the heartwood is pink veined. It is known in carpentry under the name of carouge.

The carob tree is cultivated for its fruit, the Carob, whose flavor is reminiscent of chocolate. Spain is the world's leading producer of carob, producing an average of 135,000 t/year of carob, compared to 310,000 t/year for the entire world harvest. Fun fact: carob seeds were named carats, they were used as a standard to evaluate the weight of precious stones.

Carob gum

Carob gum is a food additive, it is used as a texture agent. It can be found under the code E 410 in the lists of ingredients. It is obtained by grinding the seeds of the carob tree. The food industry uses it to thicken and make their preparations smoother.

Like all gums, excess Carob gum can cause intestinal disorders. A meta-analysis values Carob gum for its hypocholesterolemic, hypoglycemic, anti-diarrheal and anti-reflux effect.

Organic carob (powder)

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