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Carob is a warm-climate tree that grows up to 50 feet in height. Its long, reddish pods contain seeds used as medicine and food. The seed consists of three different parts: the outer husk, the nutritive endosperm (analogous to the white edible portion of the coconut), and the inner seed, or germ. The endosperm is converted to locust bean gum, a thickening agent used in numerous prepared foods. The entire pod, when dried and ground, is called carob powder. Carob powder is used both as a chocolate-like flavoring and as a medicinal substance for treatment of diarrhea.
Carob is rich in insoluble fiber. Like other sources of fiber, carob has shown some promise for improving cholesterol profile. In a small (58 participants) double-blind, placebo-controlled study, use of carob powder at a dose of 15 grams daily significantly reduced levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol as compared to placebo. 1 Carob also contains tannins, astringent substances found in many plants. Foods rich in tannins are often recommended for treatment of diarrhea. (Your mother may have recommended black tea when you came down with diarrhea, on the same principle.) A double-blind clinical trial of 41 infants with diarrhea found that carob powder (at a dose of 1 gram per kilogram per day) significantly speeded resolution of diarrhea as compared to placebo. 2 The portion of...