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What Are the Health Benefits of Carob?

Once referred to as locust, carob pods are found mainly in Mediterranean countries. Evergreen carob trees generally can grow wherever citrus or olive trees do, meaning a warm, dry climate. The pod's fruit is technically a legume. Commonly used as a chocolate alternative, it has many applications in the food industry.

Antioxidant

Carob is high in antioxidants. A study published in the "Plant Foods for Human Nutrition" journal in March 2011 found that carob germ flour showed not only antioxidant but also cytotoxic activities. The flour has capabilities to attack and target specific cervical cancer cells, the study found. The antioxidant activity helps the body repair free radical damage, which is a process of aging.

Fiber

Plants are naturally high in insoluble fibers, which contain polyphenols. Another study published in "Plant Foods for Human Nutrition" in January 2010 compared two groups of people with high cholesterol. One group took a placebo, while the other consumed approximately 4 grams of carob fiber a few times a day. After four weeks, the group eating the carob fiber had lower total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.

Gastrointestinal Support

Carob has a binding action within the intestinal tract. This means it helps absorb liquid and aids problems such as diarrhea. Mixing carob powder with pureed cooked fruit or an electrolyte solution is a gentle and natural way to help with diarrhea, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. Talk to your health care provider before using carob or other herbs to treat diarrhea.

Nutrients

A 1-ounce serving of unsweetened carob chips has 70 calories, 3.5 grams of fat and no cholesterol. Unlike chocolate, carob is naturally sweet and contains 8 grams of total carbohydrates per ounce of chips, of which 7 grams are sugars. Carob is high in fiber, containing 2 grams per serving. In addition, carob contains 2 grams of protein per serving, according to the SunSpire website. Pound-per-pound comparisons to chocolate show carob has one-third the calories and approximately half the fat content, according to the botany division at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Photo Credits:

  • chocolate. chocolate coated rum truffles image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.