Carob as cocoa substitute: a review on composition, health benefits and food applications

Abstract

Cocoa originates from the beans of the cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao L.). It is an important commodity and the main ingredient in chocolate manufacture. Its value and quality are related to complex flavors and to its distinct sensory properties. The increasing demand for cocoa and its rising price urges the research for cocoa substitutes. A potential substitute for cocoa is carob. Carob is the fruit of an evergreen tree (Ceratonia siliqua L.) cultivated in the Mediterranean area, well known for its valuable locust bean gum and also for carob powder and syrup that are obtained from carob pulp. Cocoa beans and carob pods contain various phytochemicals including polyphenols, proteins and amino acids, fatty acids, carbohydrates and fiber. Phytochemicals represent an important source of nutrients and compounds that are beneficial to human health. In this review, phytochemicals in cocoa beans and carob pods and their impact on human health are reviewed. The bioactive compounds that are present in carob, in conjunction with the cocoa-like flavors and unique sensory properties that are enhanced by carob powder roasting, underline carob’s potential to substitute cocoa in various food products. These food applications are discussed in this review.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the initiative “Carob: the Black Gold of Cyprus” of the University of Cyprus. The authors thank Prof. Antonis Kakas for critically reading the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Eftychia Pinakoulaki.

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Andreas Loullis and Eftychia Pinakoulaki declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Loullis, A., Pinakoulaki, E. Carob as cocoa substitute: a review on composition, health benefits and food applications. Eur Food Res Technol 244, 959–977 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00217-017-3018-8

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Keywords

  • Carob
  • Cocoa substitute
  • Phytochemicals
  • Health benefits