Carob Powder: An Ancient Cocoa Substitute

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Carob’s origins lie in the eastern Mediterranean. From there, Spanish explorers carried it to the New World where it thrived in Mexico and South America. The British would take it throughout their empire as well, to areas that included South Africa as well as India and Australia.

Carob was used as far back as ancient Egypt and then in ancient Greece. The carob pod was the representation of the word sweet in Egyptian hieroglyphs and the Egyptians used the resin as an adhesive for binding mummies.

Throughout history, carob has been used as a food during famines due to the tree’s ability to resist drought and to survive in low-quality soils.

Today, a handful of countries produce most of the world’s carob. These countries include Spain and Italy.

Carob powder flavor profile

Carob powder’s flavor is vaguely similar to that of cocoa powder and it has its own natural sweetness, which is why it is often seen as an effective cocoa substitute. However, it is less bitter than chocolate and does not have the same rich flavor that chocolate-lovers crave.

Health benefits of carob powder

Carob powder has a variety of characteristics that make it beneficial for boosting health. Its healthy properties include the fact that is:

  • Low-fat: Carob powder is low in fat, especially if you compare it to chocolate chips. Chocolate chips have more sugar and more fat than an equivalent serving of carob powder. This means that carob powder can be a good option if you are trying to lose weight.
  • A source of minerals: Carob powder is a good source of minerals like calcium and iron. Calcium is important for bone health as well as for cardiovascular health and a functioning nervous system. You can get 4 percent of your daily recommended calcium from a 2-tablespoon serving of carob powder. You need iron for transporting oxygen throughout your body and for a healthy immune system. You get 2 percent of your daily recommended iron intake from a 2-tablespoon serving of carob powder.
  • Does not contain oxalates: Unlike cocoa powder, carob powder does not contain oxalates. Oxalates are compounds found in certain foods that can hinder your body’s ability to absorb calcium. Among other things, the inability to absorb calcium can cause kidney stones.
  • A source of fiber: A 2-tablespoon serving of carob powder can meet 8 percent of your daily requirement for dietary fiber. Your body needs dietary fiber for good digestion and it can provide a number of benefits related to cardiovascular health and blood sugar management.

You can use carob powder in your diet to help treat or prevent the following health problems:

  • High cholesterol: High cholesterol significantly increases your risk of heart disease. Carob powder has dietary fiber and other compounds that can lower the risk.
  • Osteoporosis: The calcium in carob powder can help to compensate for the loss in bone density suffered by many older adults.
  • Constipation: The dietary fiber in carob powder can help food to move through your digestive system with greater ease, thus preventing or treating constipation.

Common uses of carob powder

Carob powder looks a lot like cocoa powder, which is the main reason that it is the most popular chocolate substitute. It can be used in any dish that requires cocoa powder, though the quantity used should be adjusted to compensate for the fact that it has a milder flavor that is not as rich or bitter as the flavor of cocoa powder.