Carob, high fiber seeds: benefits, dosage, risks

Carob BENEFITS OF THE CARACONA

  • Participates in the defense of the organization
  • Relieves digestive disorders
  • Helps to lose weight
  • Reduces cholesterol levels
  • Regulates blood sugar levels
Carob tree

Pixabay photo

What is the carob tree?

When we speak of the carob tree, we commonly refer to the fruit of the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua). This tree belongs to the fabaceae or leguminous family (like lentils and fenugreek!) which includes many trees native to tropical or Mediterranean regions.

The carob tree appreciates warm and dry climates. Without these climatic conditions, it cannot produce fruit. That is why it is said that the carob tree is a “thermophilic” tree. The carob tree grows mainly around the Mediterranean (Portugal, Spain, Maghreb…) and in Turkey.

The longevity, the huge trunk, the rough bark, the giant leaves and the hanging pods of the carob tree make it a true botanical curiosity.

But in cooking and herbal medicine, it is mainly the carob tree seeds that are of interest.

After flowering, the carob tree produces long green pods, each with a dozen seeds.

However, before the harvest, the pods are not harvested until the following summer, when they are fully ripe and have taken on a nice brown color.

The pods of the carob tree are the origin of its scientific name. “Ceratonia” comes from the Greek “κεράτια” which means “little horn” in reference to the curved shape of the pods. The Latin term “siliqua” simply refers to a pod.

Even today, carob is still used in many ways. Its wood is appreciated in marquetry, its seeds are used in certain soft drinks, for the production of chewing gum or confectionery.

Carob seeds are also an excellent substitute for chocolate in sweet preparations. They are used to make carob seed flour, which is naturally gluten-free.

Today, Spain, Morocco and Italy are the 3 main producers of carob. The seeds are not only sold to the food industry. Their content in fiber, proteins, vitamins and antioxidant assets also make them very interesting super foods for health.

Nutritional Composition

  • Sugars: glucose, sucrose
  • Starch
  • Fibers
  • Protein
  • Vitamins: A, B, B2, E, D2
  • Tannins: Gallic acid
  • Antioxidant active ingredients: polyphenols, myricetin, quercetin
  • Pectin
  • Minerals and trace elements: potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, silica, iron

The benefits of carob

Participate in the defenses

Carob seeds contain a significant amount of active antioxidants such as polyphenols. These organic molecules, present in many plants, fight effectively against free radicals and limit their damage.

Carob vitamins also participate in the body’s defenses.

Vitamin A, for example, supports immune system function and slows cellular aging, as does vitamin E. Vitamin B2 (or riboflavin) is involved in the production of many enzymes and in the regeneration of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant.

Finally, carob seeds also contain iron, which is a component of the body’s antioxidant enzymes.

This study from the University of Bonn, conducted directly on carob pods, shows their high concentration of polyphenols.

Relieves digestive disorders

Carob seeds are a precious aid to relieve digestive and gastrointestinal disorders: difficult digestion, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, stomach aches, lazy bowels, colon irritations…

Thanks to its high fiber content (40 g per 100 g), carob contributes to the proper functioning of intestinal transit. It is an excellent antidiarrheal agent but also a natural laxative that facilitates the progression of the feces in the colon. As such, they can be compared to chia seeds.

The seeds also contain pectin, a plant substance that protects the gastric mucous membranes and intestinal walls. Carob also helps to improve the intestinal flora thanks to its prebiotic effect.

This study by the University Ibn Khaldun (Tunisia) and the University Abdelhamid Ibn Badis (Algeria), carried out directly on bacterial strains, shows how carob trees improve the proliferation of the “friendly” bacteria Lactobacillus fermentum present in the digestive system.

Reduces cholesterol levels

Numerous studies have confirmed the interest of carob in reducing the level of “bad cholesterol” (or LDL cholesterol) and triglycerides in the blood. This action is due to the presence of polyphenols and soluble fibers.

While increasing the level of “good cholesterol” (or HDL cholesterol), carob polyphenols fight against the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. This prevents the formation of plaque in the arteries, which is responsible for atherosclerosis.

Soluble fiber also helps reduce cholesterol levels by limiting the absorption of carbohydrates and fats.

This study from King Abdulaziz University (Saudi Arabia), conducted on rats, shows that carob can be effective in reducing hypercholesterolemia.

Another study from the University of Potsdam, conducted on patients with high blood cholesterol, shows that consumption of carob reduced their LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Regulates blood sugar levels

Carob is interesting for diabetics because it has a hypoglycemic effect.

It is involved in controlling and lowering blood sugar levels, despite its high glucose and sucrose content. In fact, the large amount of soluble fiber it contains is sufficient to delay the absorption of these sugars.

However, care must be taken: it tends to increase insulin sensitivity and interact with antidiabetic drugs. If you have diabetes, ask your doctor for advice before taking carob.

In this study, conducted in adults at the Agricultural University of Athens, researchers studied the effects of carob on blood sugar levels.

Helps to lose weight

Thanks to its high fiber content and low fat content, carob is a good ally when you want to lose weight. The fibers contained in the seeds are called “soluble” fibers: once in the stomach, they swell, thicken and form a kind of gel. Thanks to this process, carob promotes a feeling of satiety and acts as a natural appetite suppressant.

Due to its richness in nutrients, the carob tree is also interesting to avoid deficiencies during a diet. Of course, like cocoa, it should not be consumed in excess because it is relatively caloric (220 kcal per 100 g).

Studies are still needed to evaluate the efficacy of carob in weight loss.

How do you eat carob?

Carob powder or flour

In organic and specialized stores or on the Internet, you can easily find carob powder or flour. It is obtained by grinding the whole pod of the carob tree. This is the most widely used form of chocolate substitute in sweet preparations. It is also used in the manufacture of food supplements in capsule form.

The powder or carob flour is easily mixed in pastry recipes or simply in drinks (shakes, milkshakes…).

Carob powder can easily replace cocoa in cakes and pies.

Carob or locust bean gum flour

Locust bean gum, also known as locust bean gum, should not be confused with locust bean gum. In fact, as its name suggests, locust bean gum is obtained only after the seeds have been crushed.

It is a natural thickener widely used in the food industry (under the name E410) because it contains galactomannan, a complex sugar composed of starch.

In the kitchen, carob gum is used to thicken sauces, soups or to make creamier homemade ice cream. Carob seed flour is naturally gluten-free.

Carob syrup

Syrup, or carob molasses, is obtained from the pulp of the pod. It is a more difficult form to find than flour or gum.

This syrup can replace honey or sugar in cake mixes, hot and cold drinks or bread.

Carob and cactus

The combination of carob and nopal cactus is recommended to accompany weight loss. In fact, nopal, better known as prickly pear, is a natural appetite suppressant and a fat collector. It also facilitates digestion thanks to its high fiber content.

Dosage of carob

It is not really a recommended dose for taking carob. However, the daily dose should not exceed 30 g for an adult (or 15 g for a child of 10 kg).

In cooking, carob is used in the same proportions as cocoa. If you take it as a food supplement, always respect the doses indicated by the manufacturer.

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Carob capsules are best taken at lunchtime or one hour before as part of a slimming diet, to promote the feeling of satiety.

A month’s cure can be interesting in reducing bad cholesterol.

In capsules : up to 2 per day for 330 mg capsules

Powder form : up to 30 g per day, every 2 hours

In syrup : can be consumed throughout the day

Contraindications and side effects

The consumption of carob has certain contraindications. Therefore, it is not recommended for the following people:

  • As a precaution, pregnant or nursing women should avoid taking carob over a long period of time.
  • Because carob affects blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, people with diabetes should consult their doctor before taking it.
  • People with kidney problems should avoid taking it because it affects urea and creatinine levels.
  • Carob should not be taken in cases of severe anemia or micronutrient deficiency.
  • Not recommended for infants and underweight children.

Side effects after taking carob are few. Rare rashes have been reported.

Other Options:

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