The carob tree or carob tree (its scientific name is Ceratonia Siliqua L.) is a tree of the legume family, very typical of the Mediterranean region, which has been cultivated for centuries due to its fruits and the importance they exert on dry soil. Its longevity can reach up to 500 years. Its leaves are green, while the flowers, very small and reddish, are grouped and appear at the end of summer.
These groups give rise to long and thick pods. Green when immature, these pods turn brown and flatten when they mature around July. Inside the pods are crushed carob seeds, brown in color and ovoid. There are fifteen to twenty seeds per carob pod.
The pods of the carob tree are said to have supported the biblical figure John the Baptist as he prayed in the desert. Hence, it is also known as San Juan bread.
Roasted carob seeds are used as a coffee or chocolate substitute in baking after the seeds are ground, known as carob flour, or made into syrup.
Medicinal properties of carob and its nutritional benefits
The carob tree is very rich in protein and contains among its properties essential vitamins, as well as antioxidants and tannins that contain gallic acid, which is a powerful natural antiseptic, antiallergic and antibacterial.
The yellow pulp contained in the pods tastes like chocolate and can be used as a substitute for cocoa, with a lower caloric intake. It consists of 40% sugars, 35% starch, 7% protein and, to a lesser extent, tannins and minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
The thickening properties of the pulp are linked to the presence of a sugar called galactomannan, that is to say a set of sugars which is sometimes used to replace starch.
Carob is rich in insoluble fiber, contains a large amount of vitamin E and thiamin (vitamin B), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) and ergocalciferol (vitamin D2). is rich in potassium and magnesium, and is gluten and caffeine free.
The carob tree has been used for centuries for human consumption and animal feed in Mediterranean countries. For example, it is widely used for horse fodder, and these animals love these pods.
bark Algarrobo is astringent and contains tannins with medicinal properties. Tannin, one of its components sometimes considered toxic, is being revalued as an antioxidant and protector. Tannins are phenolic compounds that have astringent, anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic properties. Also they have a antioxidant action that protects cells against free radicals and reduces the risk of degenerative diseases.
Infusion of carob bark
Carob can be consumed in different ways. One of them is in the form of an infusion. For this we will use 5 grams of bark for a cup of water. The bark is ground and prepared as a decoction. It must be simmered for 30 minutes, let stand for 5 minutes, strain, sweeten and it is ready to eat. You can drink up to 3 cups a day.
The carob resin is particularly suitable for fights asthma, gonorrhea, cystitis, laryngitis, indigestion and is a magnificent expectorant agent.
Resin extraction and infusion
Extracting the resin or gum from the carob tree is simple. A cut is made to the tree and the resin is collected. This resin contains sage which coagulates like a gum and is dark in color. Take 100 grams of the already hardened resin and grind it or dissolve it directly in 1 liter of hot water. Sweeten to taste and drink 2 glasses a day.
Poultice preparation for muscle pain
carob leaves are used as a poultice, because have anti-inflammatory propertiesthey are used in case of muscle pain, blows or bone pain due to falls.
The leaves are crushed, warmed a little and placed on the affected area, covering them with a bandage and leaving them to act overnight, if possible. Change the dressing several times a day.
antidiarrheal properties and astringents
carob pulp It contains astringent, antidiarrheal properties and has the property of absorbing toxins from the digestive tract. It gives excellent results in children’s diarrhea, in addition to fighting stomach aches. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9620567/)
Due to its high fiber content (pectin and lignin), it has a particular effect on the intestinal flora, reducing bacteria and increasing the flora of lactobacilli.
Pectin is also a coagulant, bactericide, preventive against cancer, helps reduce cholesterol levels and the formation of cell membranes, eliminates heavy metals and radioactive substances from the body and protects the intestinal mucosa.
Traditionally, carob is used for the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases, especially diarrhea. Due to the high pectin and tannin content of carob pods, it has been used as a natural remedy for this gastric condition.
Carob flour is prepared with water for the rehydration of sick children, the dose is 1.5 grams of algorraba per kilo of weight up to a maximum of 15 grams, that is, say if the child weighs 30 kilos the maximum is 15 grams but if you weigh 6 you only get 9 grams (https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-321/carob)
Pectin is a polysaccharide, a water-soluble substance believed to aid digestion and bacterial infections. Tannins which are carbohydrates and plant pigments have antioxidant and antibacterial properties. In addition, tannins retain water and act as a binder, resulting in firmer stools.
Other traditional uses of the pods include remedies for intestinal worms.
Preparation of the antidiarrheal and antiparasitic remedy
- 50 gr of carob flour
- 1 liter of water or vegetable milk (preferably rice). If you wish, you can consult our article on how to prepare your own vegetable drinks.
- Black sugar or honey to sweeten
Treatment of hypercholesterolemia
The high fiber content of carob suggests that it may lower blood cholesterol levels. In 2010, researchers studied the effects of consuming polyphenol-rich carob fiber in 88 people with high cholesterol. The results of this study indicate that this consumption reduces the levels of total cholesterol (-18%), LDL cholesterol “bad cholesterol” (-26%) and triglycerides (-16%) after one month.
As a natural antibacterial, it is used to treat different conditions such as pharyngitis, eye inflammation, etc.
Recipe for treating pharyngitis
We only need 30 grams of carob pods for each liter of water. We take the whole carob, chop it and cook it in decoction. We simmer it for 30 minutes. It is filtered and gargled several times a day.
Eye drops for eye infections and inflammations
The same recipe is used as for pharyngitis, although in this case it is left to cool, filtered well and used to wash the eyes several times a day. It is necessary to filter it with a cloth strainer, since the carob microparticles must not pass because they can further damage our eyes.
The lignans, Estrogen-like chemicals called phytoestrogens found in the plant have antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. These lignans could be useful in the fight against certain estrogen-related cancers and could be used as an estrogen replacement during and after pregnancy. menopause .
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat and stir until thickened, serve and consume hot.
Carob is to be avoided in the following cases:
- People with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to carob, its components such as tannins, or those who are allergic to plants of the Fabaceae family.
- Patients with chromium, cobalt, copper, iron or zinc disorders or deficiency, as this may reduce their absorption.
- Patients with metabolic disorders, acute diarrhea or low birth weight babies.
Carob flour vs cocoa
The first difference is that carob does not contain caffeine or oxalic acid (it is a compound that prevents the absorption of calcium and iron), but above all the big difference is that chocolate is rich in fat and sugar and is much more caloric than carob flour which is generally more natural and less manageable.
Carob flour is a popular cocoa substitute. They are lower in calories, caffeine free, non-addictive and allergy free. Besides, they do not interfere with the assimilation of calcium by the body, unlike cocoa and chocolate.
Another reason for the consumption of carob flour to replace chocolate products is that in most places where cocoa is produced there is child exploitation. And where this is not the case, the conditions of the workers are not the most ideal. This is why using less cocoa and more carob can be a good way to NOT contribute to this exploitation.
Healthy recipes with carob flour
Ingredients for two people:
- ½ carob flour
- cup of cornstarch
- 1 liter of vegetable milk
- natural vanilla drops
- 3 tablespoons of honey
- water (amount needed)
- Put the milk with the natural vanilla essence in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Separately, dissolve the carob flour and cornstarch with water and add to the previous preparation.
- Cook for a few minutes over low heat, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
- Remove from heat and sweeten with honey.
- Arrange in individual molds or caramel flan mold. Serve cold.
Carob, raisin and coconut bar
- 50gr of carob flour.
- 50gr of butter (or margarine or Ghee).
- 110gr of rolled oats.
- 1 tablespoon of honey (or agave syrup).
- 50gr of Sultanas grapes.
- 25g grated coconut.
Preparation: Put the carob flour with the butter in a saucepan and melt over very low heat, add the honey, raisins, grated coconut and flour. Stir and leave on low heat for about 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180º. Place parchment paper in a springform pan, pour the batter and bake for 30 minutes. Leave to cool, unmold, cut into small portions and serve.
Raw cream of carob, banana and oatmeal
- 1 ripe banana.
- 1 tablespoon raw ground carob.
- 1 tbsp fine rolled oats.2
- teaspoons of hemp seeds.
Preparation: Beat the banana with the carob until creamy, serve in a bowl and sprinkle with oats and hemp seeds. You can put it in the fridge for a while to serve it chilled.
I hope this article has served you and expanded the information about carob, and that you incorporate it into your daily life!