Parallel between carob powder (carob – K) vs cocoa (C)
Carob (Ceratonia siliqua)
It belongs to the legume family, along with other notorious members of this class (soy, beans, lentils, lupins, peas).
The tree can reach heights of up to 12-15 meters. It grows spontaneously or is cultivated in the Eastern Mediterranean area, the Arab world, India, Brazil, and Argentina, but also Moldova, Croatia, and China.
Carob has been known and appreciated since ancient times, as it was used as a complete and basic food, by the poorest people, due to its extremely low price.
E 410 or “carob gum” is carob powder, a thickening agent found in ice creams, pastry, 100% natural, healthy, and non-toxic.
The seeds of the carob pods always have the same weight (0.18 g) and have been called “karat”, after the diamonds’ unit of measure (0.2 g). However, they are not indicated for consumption.
The fruit is an indehiscent pod, compressed, elongated, curved or straight, and thickened at the sutures.
Synonyms: carob powder, Ceratonia, carob
Cocoa (Theobroma cacao)
The cocoa tree belongs to the family Malvaceae, growing 4-5 meters high, and is widespread, particularly in Latin America. Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, and Nigeria are the world’s largest producers of cocoa.
The Aztecs used cocoa beans as currency. There are cocoa beans discovered dating back to 1,100 BC.
Due to extremely aggressive advertising, chocolate consumption has continuously grown, the target market is children, and the best sales periods are the holidays and celebrations of any kind.
Chocolate is a food derived from the seeds of the cacao tree, widespread and intensely consumed worldwide.
It is a product based on cocoa butter (the fatty part of cocoa seeds), with added cocoa seeds powder, sugar, and other optional ingredients: milk, whey, almonds, walnuts, its own lecithin and/or made from soybean, and other more or less healthy flavors.
“White chocolate” is a product obtained from cocoa butter, milk, or milk-based products, containing <20% cocoa butter and 14% milk solids, but without cocoa powder.
It is one of the few known sources of lecithin (0.3%), besides soy and egg yolk.
- K. The powder can be obtained with a maximum degree of purity, resulting from the grinding process.
- C. It cannot be 100% purified. So within certain limits, it may contain shards, animal feces, and other impurities.
- K. It contains complete proteins (4-8%), carbohydrates (43-52%), lipids (0.65%), fibers (39%), 222 kcal%, sodium 35 mg%, potassium 827 mg%, iron 3-13 mg%, magnesium 54 mg%.
- C. Protein (20-23%), carbohydrates (11.5%), lipids (22-26%), with a predominance of palmitic acid (saturated), fibers (8-10%), 355 kcal%, Mg (100-520 mg %). It may contain Pb, Ni, and Sn (some mg%).
- K. Carob induces basicity in the body, as it is an alkaline food, and it doesn’t stimulate gastric acidity.
- C. In a pure state, cocoa induces acidity in the body, and it stimulates gastric acidity as well, due to its content of caffeine and histamine. It also contains organic acids.
- K. It has a HUGE antioxidant level (91,500 ORAC units/100 g), with> 10-15% more than cocoa powder, values that don’t decrease due to the processing procedures.
- C. It has a lower antioxidant level, but is still very high (80,933 ORAC units/100 g), which drops due to processing by roasting and fermentation.
- K. There is no need to add sweeteners for it to have a good taste. It has its own sugars similar to those of fruits, with a sweet, discreet, and pleasant taste. It doesn’t contain gluten or lactose!
- C. Sugar must be added +/-sweeteners +/- whey because its native taste is intensely bitter.
- K. Glycemic index: 15 (very small).
- C. Glycemic index: 20 (small).
- K. It doesn’t contain purines.
- C. It contains purines.
- K. It doesn’t contain oxalic acid, only small amounts of omega 3 and omega 9 fatty acids, with important sanogenetic effects.
- C. It contains oxalic acid, but also malic, tartaric, acetic, caprylic, capric, and valerianic acids. For this reason, significant amounts of K2CO3 are introduced (2-3%) as an acidity regulator.
- K. It is an important source of calcium for several reasons: high levels of calcium (348 mg%) and low levels of phosphorus (79 mg%), well above the minimum ratio required for metal absorption (Ca / P > 1.7). It is a basic food.
- C. It facilitates calcium loss for several reasons: low levels of calcium (51 mg%) and high amounts of phosphorus (685 mg%), below the minimum ratio required for metal absorption (Ca / P> 1.7). It contains theobromine, caffeine, and theophylline, each of them powerful substances that remove calcium (especially the first two). It is an acidic food.
- K. It is hypoallergenic and can be safely consumed by people who have asthma (it even contains a substance with antiasthmatic properties), allergic or auto-immune diseases, and cancer. It also has expectorant properties.
- C. It is highly allergenic, as it contains significant amounts of nickel. Therefore, the consumption of cocoa and derivatives is not recommended for allergic people (including those suffering from asthma and autoimmune diseases).
- K. It contains pectin, which fights and prevents GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
- C. It contains substances that determine GERD.
- K. It inhibits the development of intestinal pathogenic bacteria (especially E. coli) and restores normal peristalsis, due to its content of tannin, gallic acid, and pectin. Gallic acid also acts as an analgesic, antiallergic, antibacterial, antiviral, and antioxidant.
- C. It stimulates the development of intestinal pathogenic bacteria, due to the content of histamine and other impurities, in the best environment for their development – intestinal mucus. It accelerates intestinal transit and can cause diarrhea and other digestion disorders, as well as poor absorption of nutrients (especially in children). It stimulates the formation of nasal and bronchial mucositis, causing bronchial asthma, allergic rhinitis, and acute/chronic infections of the respiratory tract.
- K. It has no stimulating or irritating effect. It increases gastric tolerance for other foods as well, helps digestion, and is effective against bloating and diarrhea.
- C. It has a significant stimulating and irritating effect, especially due to its content of caffeine (0.1-0.5%), theobromine (1-2.4%), and theophylline.
- K. The taste is not addictive.
- C. It’s addictive due to its ”mixed” taste, with sweeteners and content of serotonin, dopamine, anandamide, and phenylethylamine (PEA), and by stimulating the brain to produce endorphin-type substances. Some studies seem to confirm that frequent consumption of chocolate can lead to a particular form of addiction, named by analogy with alcoholism … “chocoholism”. Other studies show that chocolate has a positive influence on people’s mood and that it increases sexual desire.
- K. It lowers blood cholesterol levels and those of LDL. Spirulina and carob are the only foods that contain cholesterol of vegetable origin but in extremely low and completely negligible amounts (3 mg%).
- C. The following are available for defatted cocoa! It reduces blood cholesterol levels, increasing HDL and lowering LDL. It amplifies the synthesis of vascular NO (nitric oxide) – a powerful vasodilator, and it also has an antithrombotic effect. Swiss and American cardiologists call dark chocolate with 70% cocoa the “sweet aspirin,” which, in their view, decreases the incidence of heart disease and thrombosis. However, the non-defatted cocoa loaded with saturated FA (fatty acids) cannot have the effects mentioned above!
- K. It also has the effect of phytoestrogens due to the large amount of lignans that it contains.
- C. It contains tyramine and tryptamine (just like dairy products), often responsible for some consumers’ powerful headaches. In order to obtain good and creamy chocolate, significant amounts of omega-6 oil are added, thus significantly increasing its caloric level and pro-inflammatory effect. It can cause rebellious acne, a phenomenon which is aggravated due to the theobromine it contains and by adding dairy products and sugar.
- K. Chronic consumption of carob (the more, the better!) is a certain gain for our health.
- C. Chronic consumption of cocoa (the more, the worse!) leads to low immunity, dental caries, addiction, obesity, chronic and degenerative diseases, allergic diseases, hydro-saline retention, etc.
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Author – Dr. Calin M.