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Carob is a Fantastic Chocolate Substitute

by Anastacia Sampson(more info)

listed in nutrition, originally published in issue 177 - December 2010

Chocolate is world renowned for its taste and delicacy. Yet chocolate treats have been lambasted for contributing to diabetes and obesity. Carob is a pulse (like lentils) and an excellent alternative to chocolate. This tasty food is 17% lower in fat and can be part of a recipe to suit any occasion. Generally, dairy and wheat intolerant people may be more aware of carob bars, as they are often prepared to try other foods. While low GI (glycaemic index) carob treats can be the cherry on the top for anyone who may desire this dark brown chunky food, it may serve us well to know that it is highly nutritious. This pulse is not a new kid on the block; it is one of our older foods and has a history of recorded benefits. Fortunately, scientific studies often can and do validate many of the old style uses of foods medicinally. In our lifestyles we may tend to limit ourselves to habits and the media culture and rarely venture to try to regularly use 'uncommon' foods. In the day and age of mass transport, our exposure to culturally diverse foods allows us to purchase almost any produce. It is still worth supporting locally grown foods in your region, as the geographical climate links a plant's nutritional stores to what we may need nutritionally in that climate. By all means though if available, carob is ideal as a healthy treat.

Carob


Carob is a fantastic chocolate substitute. Generally children and moms love chocolate. Perhaps it is worth knowing why? Ok, fair enough, not all women are chocolate followers and there are male devotees! Yet what is the magical ingredient that spurs on desire for this mouth melting 'sweet high'. Caffeine and theobromine are two substances in chocolate that are recognized as giving us a 'high'.

Yes chocolate has substances with neurological (affecting the brain) effects. These cause us to be happier. Caffeine creates a rise in the blood sugar. Certainly no benefit for health when we eat too much regularly! That constant heightened blood sugar level creates all sorts of problems (hormonal and even toxic damage through protein glycation). Well, you and your family can be healthy and still enjoy treats by substituting carob for chocolate.

Nutritional studies show carob has three times more calcium than chocolate. It has a lower GI (glycaemic index) than chocolate. Carob has been used to assist in diarrhoea. However it contributes fibre! The little ones also need their fibre. Stomach cramps are often a wail you may hear too often...."Mommy my stomach hurts!" Now the dilemma of negotiating is over whether this is a serious appendicitis attack, a mild stomach bug or a case of too many sweets. Do try and use the carob in recipes to replace chocolate if possible. The great part is carob is 8% protein. Active people can rely on it for energy and essential nutrients. As children tend to eat too many sweets they may lose their appetite. You probably have or will bear witness to a child that is not hungry! The poor dear won't eat anything...oh no but the packet of sweets gets the saliva juices flowing and the little hands waving and reaching for sweeties. It will not get the gastric juices flowing optimally though! It is known that too many sweets/sugars deplete thiamine (Vitamin B1) levels. Thiamine is key in gastric juice formation. Poor gastric juice formation impedes iron absorption. Low iron levels are common, especially in child bearing women. Soon loss of appetite crops up with fatigue, poor concentration and possibly digestive upsets. These are among some common low level iron deficiency signs and vitamin B1 deficiency signs. Iron supplementation is served well by being accompanied by B vitamins and vitamin C (vitamin C boosts iron absorption from non-animal sources). Carob supplies some useful B vitamins and once again we can applaud our healthy sweet treat, which is derived from the fruits of the carob tree. Its Latin name is Ceratonia siliqua for any scientifically or detailed orientated moms who wish to know the complex stuff.

A bonus for moms! Carob has 17 times less fat than chocolate. Remember we all need fat; it is the type of fat that is relevant. Carob bars, carob coated rice cakes and carob chips are all other forms. Barry's carob bars (available at Dis-chem) are tasty! Every now and then dark chocolate (well the more cocoa the better for us to receive the antioxidants it contains) can and should be fine. It is in the recipes where chocolate has become too common and spoils the fun. The extra fat it delivers and caffeine can be eradicated by favouring that carob. Carob is an old food and will continue to be a factor in diets. Only now we know through scientific studies just why we should consider this sweet carob that just happens to be a type of brown chocolate. The little ones should enjoy a healthier sweet snack early in childhood diets and this is an investment in their state of older adult health. It's never too late for anyone to begin investing, certainly when it pertains to health.

References

Nauman Eileen. Medical Astrology. Blue Turtle Publishing, ISBN 0-9634662-4-0. 1996.
Garrow et al. Human Nutrition and Dietics. Chiurchill Livingstone, ISBN 0443056277, 2004.

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About Anastacia Sampson

Anastacia Sampson DN Med Dip SC D Iridol lives in South Africa and qualified in Nutritional Medicine, Iridology and Slimming Consultancy through the Plaskett International College based in the UK. After qualifying as a DN Med she has written for various regional newspapers, in health columns and has had 'A Calendar of Nutritional Tidbits and Nourishing Plants', her health book published.  www.healthyliving.za.org is her website portal and she works for a national pharmacy. Anastacia may be contacted on Tel: +27 793530393; 
anastacia.sampson@yahoo.com

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