Carob has commonly been labeled the healthy alternative to cocoa, and the answer to most people’s love of chocolate.  Carob is now readily available at your local health food store and people are being guided to consume liberally with breakfast cereals, protein balls, smoothies and even within salad dressing! But what actually is carob, and can we enjoy it without the guilt?

Similar to the cocoa bean, carob is also derived in bean form from a tree. The ripe dried pod of both the cocoa and carob trees are then ground down to produce powder forms, which are then processed to make a variety of different products including chocolate or carob.

Cocoa powder 1 cup

Carob powder 1 cup

Energy

820 kJ (196 cal)

957 kJ (229 cal)

Protein

16.9g

4.7g

Fat, total

11.8g

0.6 g

-saturated

6.9g

0.1g

Carbohydrates

49.8g

91.6g

-Sugars

1.5g

50.6g

Fibre

28.6g

41g

(nutrition information obtained from www.calorieking.com.au)

When comparing the nutritional information of raw cocoa powder and raw carob powder, we can see that the two beans are quite different.  Carob, whilst having higher total energy, has next to no fat content, and prides itself on its natural sweetness, which is shown by its higher amount of carbohydrates, sugars and also fibre. Cocoa powder on the other hand is much lower in sugars and carbohydrates, however has greater fat content.  Both beans have very similar levels of B Vitamins, and both are recognized as a rich source of antioxidants.

Depending on personal preferences and circumstances, carob powder may be a beneficial substitute for cocoa powder when cooking.  But if you don’t plan on using it as an ingredient and are after a quick chocolate or sweet fix, what is most important is what is added to the powder forms to create your favorite Easter treats.

Milk Chocolate 100g

Milk Carob 100g

Energy

2240kJ 

2470 kJ 

Protein

8.1g

8.9g

Fat, total

29.6g

43.6g

-saturated

18.7g

27.2g

Carbohydrates

59.1g

41.6g

-Sugars

57.3g

33.7g

Fibre

6.2g

Sodium

87mg

146mg

(nutrition information obtained from Cadbury and the Carob Kitchen)

easter egg

Often added to carob and cocoa powders is a variety of milk solids, cocoa butter, sugars, flavoring, and emulsifiers which are used to create those products that we all crave every now and then. When looking at a basic milk chocolate and milk carob bar, It is obvious that carob now has a greater fat content than chocolate which can be attributed to the added cocoa butter. However due to the natural sweetness of the carob bean, it has less added sugars and slightly lower carbohydrate content.

So whilst carob products may be advertised to us as the healthier chocolate, they can actually be higher in energy and fats, in particular saturated. Its important to take all health claims with a grain of salt and look into the nutrition information to see which product is best for you.  Carob is not always the healthier choice and both foods must be regarded as discretionary items to be enjoyed sparingly. So enjoy your choice of treat this Easter but as always in moderation!

Author: Felicity Loel (Dietetic Student)