Carob

Carob, the fruit of the carob tree, is part of the history and traditions of certain regions in Portugal, especially the Algarve. These days, despite its huge potential, its use is practically limited to animal fodder.

Characteristics of carob
Carob is recognised as being very rich in anti-oxidants, with a 2011 study (1) having found them in carob flour. It also has anti-carcinogenic activity, and has shown a capacity to attack cervical cancer cells and to assist in repairing damage caused by free radicals.
Another investigation (2) dating from 2010 compared two groups of people with high cholesterol; one group took a placebo, the other about 4 g of carob fibre, several times a day. In four weeks, the carob group showed a significant reduction in the levels of total cholesterol and LDL. Carob also appears to help (3) with problems such as liquid absorption or diarrhoea.

Carob v. Chocolate
Comparisons (4) gram-for-gram with chocolate show that carob contains a third of the calories and about half the quantity of fat of the latter, and for this reason is an excellent substitute. In addition, chocolate contains stimulants such as theobromine ( a close relative of caffeine), which in some cases can be highly toxic; a quantity of caffeine similar to that found in a decaffeinated coffee has been linked to an increase (5) in migraines in certain people. Because of its similarity to caffeine, theobromine may induce the same reaction. Carob does not naturally contain any of these substances.
While carob is naturally sweet, cocoa is naturally bitter, and this is compensated for by adding ingredients such as corn syrup, sugar, fructose and flavourings. Chocolate is also a foodstuff that has an acid effect.
Carob could counterbalance excesses and errors in modern diets, by replacing other ingredients and through its beneficial effects, and it is produced in Portugal by small local producers.

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