The properties and benefits of carob flour are becoming noticeable in recent years as it has gained popularity as a nutritious and healthy food.
For this reason, it is used as a substitute for cocoa to prepare multiple recipes, such as biscuits, cookies, cakes, or drinks. Do you know its interesting properties? We invite you to discover them in this article.
What is carob?
Carob is the fruit of the carob tree , Ceratonia siliqua. It is a tree native to the Mediterranean basin and belongs to the Fabaceae family. Therefore, it comes in the form of a pod with seeds inside.
The carob is a pod about 10-20 centimeters in length. When they reach maturity, at the end of summer, they acquire a brown color and an interesting sweetish flavor.
They continue to be quite important in human and animal nutrition and the pharmaceutical industry.
To make carob flour, remove the seeds and then dehydrate them. They are then roasted and ground to obtain an excellent powder. This powder can be used in the kitchen or added to smoothies, yogurts, or any food.
Its appearance is very similar to that of cocoa powder, although its color is somewhat lighter. Many people even find a resemblance in taste. Preparations made with carob flour combined with cinnamon, vanilla essence, or citrus zest are delicious and healthy.
Nutritional composition of carob flour
Carob flour provides carbohydrates, according to an article published in the Food Science & Nutrition magazine. It contains more or less between 40-50% sugars in sucrose, glucose, maltose, and fructose.
Despite containing a good amount of sugar, thanks to fiber (38.9 grams per 100 grams of flour), these are absorbed more slowly.
In its composition, there is also a small percentage of protein. In addition, carob flour is low in fat, which is of quality, such as linoleic acid and oleic acid. Vitamins of group B, iron, calcium, and potassium are also present.
Healthy properties of carob flour
The fat content of carob flour is shallow, something that many people value compared to the saturated fat content that cocoa contains.
In addition, many of the benefits associated with the consumption of carob flour are due to the presence of soluble fiber, which is capable of stimulating the selective growth of the microbiota.
This type of fiber helps regulate intestinal function and reduce blood cholesterol levels. It is gluten-free and suits people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
The main benefits of carob flour
For all these properties mentioned, you (as part of a healthy diet) can have some health benefits.
1. Weight control
Carob flour contains almost no fat; therefore, preparations made with it provide fewer calories than if they had cocoa as an ingredient. This could help maintain a healthy weight, although cocoa must not be eliminated from diets to lose weight.
On the other hand, this legume also contains a lot of soluble fiber, which remains in the stomach for a long time, prolongs satiety and reduces appetite.
However, care must be taken when substituting chocolate for carob. Perceiving the latter as a healthier product could lead to the mistake of thinking that pastries made with this ingredient can be eaten regularly.
2. Source of iron
Remember that carob flour is rich in iron, an essential mineral to maintain immune function, have good physical and mental performance and produce red blood cells.
Combining iron with foods that contain abundant vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and other fruits (strawberries, mango, or pineapple), is necessary to assimilate the iron in carob better.
3. Calcium intake
The calcium in carob flour is used better than other vegetable sources. This is because carob does not contain oxalates, which would be one of the main compounds that inhibit the intestinal absorption of this mineral.
This makes better use of calcium, which is necessary for the health of bones and teeth. Also, for normal muscle function, the transmission of nerve impulses, and blood circulation.
4. Reduction of blood cholesterol levels
The soluble fiber of this legume also contains an impressive amount of polyphenols. And as confirmed by research published by the National Library of Medicine, its consumption has beneficial effects on the lipid profile of the blood.
This is capable of capturing cholesterol and inhibiting, in part, its absorption. As a consequence, cholesterol does not pass into the blood and could be beneficial for treating and preventing hyperlipidemia.
5. Prebiotic effect
Its fibers help to improve the fermentative intestinal flora. It has been used as an antidiarrheal but is also a laxative and promotes proper peristalsis. In addition, it favors the healing of infections and gastrointestinal problems.
The dietary fiber in carob forms gels in the intestine, which favors evacuation. It also has an astringent effect due to its tannin content.
6. Source of antioxidants
Carob flour contains polyphenols that help reduce oxidative damage and keep cells healthy. For this reason, among other things, it helps prevent the effects of premature aging and the appearance of some chronic diseases.
7. Caffeine Free
Carob flour can be used to prepare drinks (hot or cold) that could replace coffee, tea, and cocoa for those sensitive to caffeine.
How can carob flour be used in the kitchen?
Carob flour is an excellent substitute for cocoa powder as it has similar organoleptic properties. For this reason, this is one of the primary uses usually attributed to it.
In general, it is used alone or mixed with other flour. If they are gluten-free (rice, coconut, buckwheat, or almonds), preparations suitable for celiacs are obtained. Some of the most common recipes are the following:
- Muffins and brownies.
- It is mixed with fruit, yogurt, or vegetable drinks in smoothies.
- I sprinkled it over fruit or yogurt.
- In the form of an infusion or hot drink.
Its use is, in principle, safe for the entire population in general and at all ages, although it should not be abused and introduced as part of a healthy and balanced diet.
Include carob flour in your diet.
Did you know all these properties of carob flour? Now that you know how good it is for your health, don’t stop using it to prepare your favorite recipes.
In any case, remember that this food does not have miraculous properties. It must be used as part of a varied and balanced diet.