Carob (Ceratonia siliqua) is a leguminous evergreen tree of the family Leguminosae (pulse family). Carob is technically a legume, and its fruit is a fairly thick and broad pod, 15-30cm in length. Carob pods have been used as food and in medicinal applications since prehistoric times. Although it was originally native to Mediterranean regions, it is now cultivated in many warm climates, including Florida and California.
Carob has been used to treat infantile diarrhea, and carob bean gum has been used to control hyperlipidemia and as a dietary adjunct to elevated plasma cholesterol management.
There are conflicting data on the effect of carob bean gum as a formula thickener and its effect on regurgitation frequency. The use of soluble dietary fibers such as carob bean gum has been shown to alter food structure, texture and viscosity, the rate of starch degradation during digestion and hence the regulation of postprandial blood sugar and insulin levels.
The pods are also ground into a flour, which is often used as a cocoa substitute because it has a somewhat similar taste to chocolate and one-third the calories. As a food, the United States has rated carob as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status.
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