WHAT IS THIS FRUIT CALLED CAROB!
Carob is native to the eastern Mediterranean, probably the Middle East, where it has been in cultivation for at least 4000 years. The plant was well known to the ancient Greeks, who planted seeds of this plant in Greece and Italy.
This plant is also called St. John’s bread or locust bean because the pods were once thought to have been the “locusts” that were eaten by John the Baptist in the Wilderness.
That story was apparently wrong–he ate migratory locust. Seeds were used to weight gold, hence the word “carat.” Mohammed’s army ate kharoub , and Arabs planted the crop in northern Africa and Spain (Moors), along with citrus ( Citrus ) and olives ( Olea ).
Spaniards carried carob to Mexico and South America, and the British took carob to South Africa, India, and Australia.
Records show that carob was intentionally introduced into the United States in 1854, and the first seedlings were apparently planted in California in 1873. For commercial production cultivars with the finest quality fruits are bud grafted on common stock.
Carob grows well anywhere that citrus is grown, and it prefers dry climates that receive more than 30 centimeters of rainfall–ideal mediterranean-type climates.
The fruit of carob is a pod, technically a legume 15 to 30 centimeters in length and fairly thick and broad.
Pods are borne on the old stems of the plant on short flower stalks. Interestingly, most carob trees are monoecious, with individual male and female flowers.
The dark-brown pods are not only edible, but also rich in sucrose (almost 40% plus other sugars) and protein (up to 8%).
Moreover, the pod has vitamin A, B vitamins, and several important minerals. They can be eaten directly by livestock, but we know carob mostly because the pods are ground into a flour that is a cocoa substitute.
Although this product has a slightly different taste than chocolate, it has only one-third the calories (total 1595 calories per pound), is virtually fat-free (chocolate is half fat), is rich in pectin, is nonallergenic, has abundant protein, and has no oxalic acid, which interferes with absorption of calcium.
Consequently, carob flour is widely used in health foods for chocolate-like flavoring.
A very fine polysaccharide gum–mucilaginous, odorless, tasteless, and colorless–can also be obtained from the pod and is now used in many products.
There are also several putative medicinal uses of the plant, and singers formerly chewed the pod husks in the belief that this clears the throat and voice.
Most carob used in this country comes from the Mediterranean Region, especially Sicily, Cyprus, Malta, Spain, southern Sardinia, and Italy along the Adriatic Sea.
Carob can be produced in California, and was grown for a while in the Southland, but this has not been economically successful because the land is too valuable to devote to this crop.
Carob is a species that has a long history of use by humans. Other names commonly used for Carob are St John’s Bread and Locust. Legend has it that St John ate the pods of this species and hence the name.
Evidence of the use of Carob products by humans date back to ancient Greece and Egypt where the plant was used as a source of food.
The seeds from the Carob tree are extremely consistant in size and weight and are believed to have been the original guage for the ‘carat’ used by jewellers.
The species itself is ancient having survived the last ice age and flourished throughout the Mediterranean region since. It is well adapted to harsh climates and poor soils. Throughout its natural range the species has been widely cultivated because of its reliability as a food and fuel resource even during times of drought.
Description: The carob tree is a slow growing, medium sized evergreen tree originating in the eastern Mediterranean. It is a member of the Legume (Pea) family and is the only member of the genus Ceratonia. It is a xerophilous scleophphyllous species well suited to dry infertile environments. The species is trioecious with male, female and hermaphrodite inflorescences and is often multi stemmed growing up to 15 meters in height. The production of fruit begins around the age of 15 and continues for the life of the plant. The leaves are broad, dark green and offering substantial shade. The pods are long and leathery often growing up to 300mm long.
Carob is a highly versitile and useful tree to humans as there are a wide range of products derived from its fruits and timber. Primarilly, foods for both human and animal consumption are obtained from it’s seeds, pulp and seed pods. Every part of the fruit is able to be consumed. However food is not the only product supplied by this species.
Carob in Food
The fruits of the Carob tree can be eaten either green or after having been processed. The Inside the seed pod there are up to 15 seeds surrounded by a saccharine pulp. The seeds are seperated from the pulp and used to make locust bean gum sometomes known as Ceratonia or Carob bean gum.
This product is used in the manufacture of food stuffs, especially confectionary. It be used as a stabiliser, emulsifer, thickener or to to prevent sugar crystallisation. The other major food source derivrd from Carob is from the ground up pod itself, which forms a high protein powder that is an effective substitute for Cocoa powder.
Carob powder has a number of advantages over Cocoa powder and as such is often used to make what has come to be known as ‘healthy chocolate’ .
Carob powder is free of the allergetic and addictive effects of caffeine and theobromine present in Cocoa. It also contains less fat and more sugar than Cocoa. Cocoa has around 23% fat and 5% sugar while Carob contains apporoximately 7% fat and 42-48% sugar. Carob powder is often used as a substitute for cocoa at rates of up to 50%.
Used in this manner Carob has become a popular chocolate substitute used in a huge variety of confectionery products and drinks as well as a general sweetener. Carob is also used to make flour, molasses, alcohol and a substitute for coffee and eggs.
Carob inhibits digestive enzymes because it contains chemicals known as tannins. It has also been reported to help with weight loss, diabetes and manage cholesterol levels. In addition, carob pulp also has a large amount of phenolic anti-oxidants.
Carob and Weight Loss
Carob may increase fat oxidation and energy expenditure in humans. This means that carob may help to burn fat and calories in the body. It also has beneficial effects on postprandial lipid metabolism related to hormones in the stomach; this means that it helps to increase the metabolism by positively affecting the secretion of hormones in the stomach.
Carob and Digestion
Carob pulp is rich in insoluble dietary fiber, which helps us stay regular and have a high level of energy–
as opposed to feeling irregular and sluggish.
Carob and Benefits for Diabetes
There is good reason to believe that carob may also be beneficial in the treatment of diabetes,
since it has a tendency to reduce blood glucose and insulin levels.
Carob and Cholesterol
Other benefits of carob include its ability to lower high cholesterol levels in the blood.
This is done by lowering not only serum cholesterol, but also serum triglycerides.
Carob and Antioxidants
Carob fiber contains a large amount of phenolic antioxidants. Phenolic antioxidants help
protect the body from diseases which are a result of cell oxidation caused by free radicals.
This legume has a variety of health benefits for the human body. What is great about carob is that it can be prepared many different ways and has many uses. Depending on how carob is used and how it is prepared, it can help the body with different health issues.
Carob health benefits the body by being an ideal weight loss supplement; it also supplies people with a good healthy dose of fiber and may be the perfect dietary supplement for a person with diabetes. In addition, carob also helps lower high cholesterol levels, and supplies the body with very powerful antioxidants called phenolic antioxidants, which help the body ward off diseases. So, the next time you are interested in trying a new spice, try some carob. Add carob chips to your homemade cookies, or coffee, and you may just be pleasantly surprised.
12 most important ones
- Improves digestion.
- Lowers cholesterol level in the blood. Carob seeds don’t have a cholesterol agent.
- It acts as an antioxidant.
- It can be used to treat diarrhea in children and adults.
- It contains an active substance that is effective against asthma. Carob is also used for asthma problems caused by allergies.
- It is a good expectorant. If the smokers use it for a few days, they will see how to expectorate.
- It doesn’t contain caffeine. It works nicely for patients that have high blood pressure.
- It can help to prevent lung cancer, if used regularly.
- It contains vitamins E and is used for the treatment of cough, flu, anemia and osteoclasis.
- Carob tannins have Gallic acid. Gallic acid is analgesic, anti allergic and antibacterial. It is also antioxidant, antiviral and antiseptic.
- It is used for the treatment of polio in children, as the Gallic acid in carob tannins helps to prevent polio.
- It is rich in phosphor and calcium. It is used in the fight against osteoporosis.