Carob Benefits & Information
Algarrobo, Caroube, Carouge, Ceratonia siliqua, Fève de Pythagore, Figuier d’Égypte, Garrofero, Locust Bean, Locust Bean Gum, Locust Pods, Pain de Saint Jean-Baptiste, St. John's Bread, Sugar Pods.
Mediterranean region, Western Asia into Iran, the Canary Islands and Macaronesia
Carob pulp from the pod (not the beans)
The Egyptians were the foremost exponents of Carob and its uses. Carob was used for its pulp which was mixed into a porridge with honey. Various parts, like the wax of the pod, were used as a treatment for diarrhoea and digestive disorders. This seems to be the main usage other than various remedies with a component of Carob being employed for eye infections and to expel intestinal worms. As with many Egyptian remedies, similar treatments were also used by the Greeks. The 1st Century physician Dioscorides expounded the use of Carob for the digestive system, saying that, it had the ability to relieve stomach pain and calm the digestion. Carob has also been used to make beverages with Cocoa and a traditional Maltese Carob Liqueur.
Carob is regularly used as a substitute for chocolate because it doesn’t contain theobromine or caffeine and has a similar sweet malty taste. People who are allergic to cocoa can eat Carob with no adverse reactions. Those with conditions such as celiac disease might find Carob useful since it has proven to have an action that calms the digestion and helps nutrients be absorbed by the intestine. Generally all digestive functions are supported by ingesting Carob as the pulp can also help with diarrhoea, acid reflux and morning sickness during pregnancy. The other highly beneficial action of Carob is that it assists in lowering cholesterol through the high percentage of chemical tannins which hinder certain enzymes that contribute to digestion. This in turn lowers cholesterol, helps weight loss and reduces blood sugar and insulin levels. Because of its fibre content and carbohydrates Carob also has a good nutritional value that gives it an edge over other sweet foods.
Carob is typically used as a substitute for chocolate because of its sweet taste. As well as a food the Carob seed pod is used in the cosmetic industry as an ingredient in face masks because of certain detoxifying effects on skin.
In the ancient Middle East the seeds of the kharrūb (Carob or locust bean pod) were used to measure the weight and worth of precious metals and stones. This eventually became known throughout Europe as a ‘karat’ and 24 Carob beans were the exact weight of a pure gold Roman solidus coin. This is how ‘24 karats’ is known to signify pure gold and has stuck as the contemporary classification for all precious metals and gem stones. As a food the Carob Tree has a long tradition within the Middle East as a means of subsisting on very little but the pod and beans. References to John the Baptist in the New Testament parable of Mathew suggests that John the Baptist ate nothing but ‘locusts and honey’ (locust bean pod is another name for the Carob pod). Similar references in Mesopotamian literature point to the Carob pod being a source of food during times of famine. Throughout history Carob has been enjoyed for its sweet taste and there are many sweet foods and drinks that carry a heavy content of this ingredient.
8% protein and contains vitamins A, B, B2, B3 and D. Carbohydrates: sucrose (32-38%), glucose (5-6%), fructose (5-7%) and maltose. Amino acids: alanine, glycine, leucine, praline, and valine; tyrosine, phenylalanine; high in calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium and contains iron, manganese, barium, copper and nickel; high amount of tannins.