Spring 2014 True Natural Health Magazine – Your Questions Answered
By Roger French
QUESTION: I was very interested in your answer to the question concerning cocoa and cacao in the Winter 2014 issue, page 8. And even more so when I turned to the recipes using cocoa, for which I promptly substituted cacao. Where does carob fit into this? Is it safer and/or healthier than either cocoa or cacao?
Carob powder is nutritionally superior to cocoa/cacao in all significant aspects except antioxidants and taste.
The great advantage of carob is that it contains no caffeine, theobromine or other methylxanthines, which are the detrimental stimulants in cocoa/cacao. Another advantage is that it is naturally sweet and confectionery made with it requires little or no added sweetening.
The only nutritional negative of carob is that the powder has been roasted, but so has cocoa powder. However, raw carob powder is available, though it’s not as tasty.
Carob is basically a carbohydrate food. Its nutrient analysis is approximately: natural sugar 49%, high fibre at 40%, protein 5%, fat 1% and a few percent water. For minerals, carob is rich in calcium at 350 mg per 100 gm food; magnesium is abundant at 54 mg and there are other minerals at good levels. A notable benefit of the minerals is that the calcium-to-phosphorous ratio is a very healthy 4.4, in contrast to many foods which are the other way around. (This nutrient analysis was obtained from NutritionData, www.nutritiondata.self.com and is consistent with figures in Guidebook to Nutritional in Foods by David Phillips (now out of print).)
Carob powder is wholesome and nutritious – although the nutrition is rendered less significant by the fact that only relatively small amounts are consumed. However, if the raw carob pod is chewed, the nutrients could become significant.
Confectionery based on carob usually contains refined sugar (raw sugar is also refined), fat such as palm kernel oil, milk powder, carob and the emulsifier lecithin. If you can find confectionery made of dried fruit coated with no-added-sugar carob ‘chocolate’, then this is probably and excellent compromise for those of us with a sweet tooth.
A readily available commercial biscuit that is akin to chocolate-coated, but free of cocoa and refined sugar, is made by Naturally Good Products. It is Carob Buckwheat Crispbread, the ingredients being carob compound (milk powder, vegetable oil, carob powder, lecithin, flavour) and buckwheat crispbread (buckwheat flour, rice flour, salt). I am not suggesting eating a lot of this, but it is one of the more wholesome treats. I recently found it in Coles.
If a recipe contains cocoa, this can nearly always be replaced with carob powder, perhaps even raw carob powder.