Source: Ceratonia siliqua L. (Family Leguminosae or Fabaceae).
Common/vernacular names: Carob, carob bean, locust bean, St. John's bread.
Dome-shaped evergreen tree with dark green compound leaves, consisting of two to five pairs of large, rounded glossy leaflets; fruits (pods) up to 30 cm long, indehiscent, and sometimes borne on the tree trunk; tree up to 15 m high; native to southeastern Europe and western Asia; widely cultivated in the Mediterranean region. Part used is the dried ripe fruit, from which three major commercial products are obtained: carob extract of the dried pod, either roasted or unroasted; carob flour from the pulp or the whole pod; and carob bean gum or locust bean gum from the endosperm of the seed. Spain, Italy, and Portugal are the major producers of carob.1
Carob pods are believed to be the locusts consumed by St. John the Baptist, hence the name St. John's bread. Seeds were used in ancient times as weight units for gold from which the term carat is reportedly derived.
Pod pulp contains 30-40% total fiber,1 30-60% (usually 40-50%) sugars mainly composed of sucrose (up to 26% in pulp), fructose (13%), xylose, maltose, dextrose, inositols, among others; proteins; amino acids (alanine, proline, valine, etc.); gallic acid; fats; starch; abscisic acid (a plant growth inhibitor); and others.1–5 Carob pods also contain high quantities of dietary fiber1 and polyphenols, including proanthocyanidins,6 catechin, (−)-epicatechin gallate, (−)-epigallocatecin gallate, gallic acid, quercetin, and ellagic acid. The fiber component (derived from the water-insoluble fraction of the pods) contains 3.94% polphenols (dry weight), including gallotannins, cinnamic, ferulic, gallic (1.65%), pcoumaric, and syringic, acids; flavones (luteolin, apigenin, and chrysoeriol), flavanones (genistein, isoflavone, and naringenin), flavonols (isorhamnetin, kaempferol, myricetin, and quercetin), and flavonol glycosides (quercetin arabinoside and others).7
The seeds contain protein, a high content of essential fatty acids (mostly oleic, linoleic, and palmitic acids), tannins, gum (a galacto-mannan), and others.3,8–10 The protein is localized in the embryo and cotyledons while the gum is present mainly in the endosperm (LIST AND HÖRHAMMER).
Rats fed preparations of carob pods rich in dietary fiber along with a high-fat diet showed significantly lower serum cholesterol levels and greater fecal mass compared to controls.11 A tanninrich carob pod preparation also lowered cholesterol levels in rats.12 Rats fed a diet containing 15% carob gum lost weight compared with control animals and showed decreases in blood glucose, plasma cholesterol, and insulin levels, along with an increase in glucose tolerance.13
An infusion of the pods inhibited the in vitro proliferation of mouse hepatocellular tumor (T1) cells and induced apoptosis in the cells.14 The crude polyphenol fraction of carob pods exhibits in vitro lipid peroxidationinhibiting, antioxidant, and free radical scavenging activities.15
Selective in vitro binding to peripheral benzodiazepine receptors was found from a methanol extract of the pods, as well as an extract of the leaves.16
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in patients diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia, a preparation of carob pulp rich in insoluble fiber (15g/day) significantly lowered total and LDL-cholesterol levels. However, triglyceride levels were only lowered in the female patients and total cholesterol levels decreased by 4% in the females versus only 1% in the male patients.17
Infants aged 3-21 months diagnosed with acute diarrhea treated with a carob pod powder containing 40% tannins (1.5 g/kg/day) showed a significant increase in normal defecation and a faster return to normal body temperature and weight and the cessation of vomiting compared to placebo.18
The addition of carob bean gum (9.5 g) to the normal daily diet of healthy humans (ages 19-25 years) was found to significantly reduce the absorption of iron, calcium, and zinc, but not copper.19
Food. Carob has served as an emergency food and as a sweet for children7 and was used by the ancient Egyptians to make beer (manniche). Carob flour and carob extracts (carob syrup, etc.) have been used as food for centuries. Currently, the flour is popular in health foods and as a cocoa substitute, for which roasted kibbles are used, while carob extracts are widely used as flavor ingredients (e.g., butterscotch, imitation chocolate, and vanilla) in all kinds of food products, including alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods, gelatins and puddings, meat and meat products, condiments and relishes, fruit and ices, sweet sauces, gravies, imitation dairy, and many others. Highest average maximum use levels reported are in imitation dairy (0.50%), fruit and ices (0.50%), gravies (0.46%), sweet sauces (0.46%), and condiments and relishes (0.42%). Carob seed is also the source of locust bean gum (galacto-mannan) that is widely used in foods to increase viscosity.
Dietary Supplements/Health Foods. Carob flour is widely used in health food products, including weight-loss formulations, "energy" bars, tea formulations, and other products, primarily as a chocolate substitute. use of carob in the united States is largely as a chocolate substitute; imitation chocolate products containing carob include brownies, carob chip cookies, candy bars, bits, creams, fudge, carob-flavored milk, and so on.20
Traditional Medicine. The dried seed kernels (GHAZANFAR) and carob flour has long been used as an antidiarrheal by people of the Mediterranean and Aegean regions.21 The ancient Egyptians used the pods in topical treatments of wounds and eye conditions, and internally in other conditions (manniche). A decoction of the pods has been used for catarrhal infections (UPHOF).
Roasted and unroasted crude (kibbles), syrup, and extracts; extracts usually come in specific flavor strengths, depending on users' requirements.
Regulatory Status. Essential oil, solvent-free oleoresin, and natural extractives of carob bean/St. John's bread are GRAS (§182.20).
See the General References for ARCTANDER; BIANCHINI AND CORBETTA; FEMA; UPHOF.
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- 2. Public R. Trop. Inst. Amsterdam, 288 (1969). ,
- 3. Qual. Plant. Mater. Veg., 21, 367 (1972). et al.,
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- 5. Planta, 92, 41 (1970). et al.,
- 6. Food Comp. Anal., 10, 166 (1997). et al.,
- 7. Food Chem. Toxicol., 41, 1727 (2003). et al.,
- 8. Ann. Falsif. Expert. Chim., 70(749), 39 (1977). et al.,
- 9. Ann. Falsif. Expert. Chim., 69(737), 23 (1976). et al.,
- 10. J. Herbal Pharmacother., 2, 29 (2002). and ,
- 11. J. Sci. Food Agric., 79, 173 (1999). et al.,
- 12. J. Nutr., 109, 685 (1970). ,
- 13. Phytother. Res., 3, 1, (1989). ,
- 14. Fitoterapia, 73, 674 (2002). et al.,
- 15. J. Agric. Food Chem., 50, 373 (2002). et al.,
- 16. Fitoterapia, 73, 390 (2002). et al.,
- 17. Eur. J. Nutr., 42, 235 (2003). et al.,
- 18. J. Pediatr. Gastroenterol. Nutr., 8, 480 (1989). et al.,
- 19. Z. Ernahrungswiss., 21, 202 (1982). et al.,
- 20. The CacahuatlEater: Ruminations of an Unabashed Chocolate Addict, Natural Products, Co., Vashon, WA, 1985. ,
- 21. Paediatr. Perinat. Epidemiol., 12, 176 (1998). et al.,
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Source: Ceratonia siliqua L. (Family Leguminosae or Fabaceae). Common/vernacular names: Carob, carob bean, locust bean, St. John's...