You’ve probably heard chocolate being promoted as a health food because of its flavonoids and antioxidants content.
It is true that cocoa comes from a plant, and this plant – the cacao plant – is a source of phytochemicals; however, cocoa and chocolate also contain many harmful chemicals including phenylethylamine, theophylline, theobromine, and caffeine that produce several negative effects in the body greatly outweighing the positive.
Chocolate’s Negative Health Effects
These chemicals alter cerebral blood flow, stress the kidneys, the adrenals, and the liver, contribute to lower bone density, cause a loss of vitamin B and vitamin C in the body, increase the risk of diabetes, aggravate PMS, can cause migraines and mood swings, and often contribute to weight gain. Chocolate also contains allergy-producing antibodies.
And above every other concern, perhaps, is the fact that chocolate is addictive. Some make light of the addictive nature of chocolate, but really, do you want a food to control you?
But what about chocolate’s health benefits?
Consider this. Tobacco has also been shown to offer some health benefits. Smoking eases the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, and nicotine seems to protect against the development of Parkinson’s disease. But without a doubt, there are enough negative effects of tobacco – such as increased risk of cancer and tobacco’s addictiveness – to make me not want to start smoking.
The same for chocolate.
What about those healthy phytochemicals?
The same good-for-you phytochemicals found in chocolate are also found in abundance in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
In fact, there are many healthy foods that are good sources of catechins – the flavonoid found in cocoa. Blackberries offer a delicious 54 mg catechins per serving …
and beans a whopping 100 mg catechins per serving!
In comparison, chocolate contains only 25 mg catechins per serving.
Apples, pears, onions, and cherries are also all good sources of this flavonoid. And they all come without the negative effects of chocolate.
And of course, all plant foods — fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and grains — are great sources of antioxidants.
I can’t live without chocolate!
You have to try this recipe for Peanut Butter Carob Balls!!! I’ve had several carob-haters try these and love them.
Although it doesn’t taste like chocolate, carob can serve as a delicious and super nutritious alternative to chocolate since it doesn’t contain any of the harmful chemicals that chocolate does.
What is Carob?
Carob comes from the carob tree, an evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean region and the western part of Asia. The carob pods, which grow on the tree, are roasted and ground into carob powder.
Is Carob Good for You?
Nutritionally, carob contains as much vitamin B1 as asparagus or strawberries, the same amount of niacin as lima beans, lentils or peas, and more vitamin A than eggplant, asparagus and beets. It is also high in vitamin B2, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and calcium.
Is Carob Better for You Than Chocolate?
Carob has none of the allergy-producing antibodies found in chocolate. It is also free from caffeine, phenylethylamine, theophylline, and theobromine which are found in chocolate. And carob does not increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, and mood swings like chocolate.
And, unlike chocolate, which requires a large amount of sugar to mask its bitter taste, carob is not bitter.
Although carob tastes different than chocolate, it is a delicious and healthful alternative to chocolate or cocoa powder in many recipes.
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, scant
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar
- 2 tablespoons roasted carob powder
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla nut Teecchino - optional, but makes these taste amazing!
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup old-fashion, natural, creamy peanut butter - see note
- 1 cup crispy rice cereal - more or less depending on the consistency of your peanut butter
- 1/2 cup very finely shredded coconut - unsweetened is best - see note
- Place all ingredients except rice cereal and coconut in food processor and blend until smooth.
- Add rice cereal and process just until mixed (or mix in cereal by hand). Use about 7/8 cup if your peanut butter is thick; use 1 cup if your peanut butter is thin; use 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon if your peanut butter is very thin.
Don’t over process or cereal will be crumbly. Mixture should be very thick.
- Using approximately 2 teaspoons of mixture at a time, form into balls. (I use my small cookie scoop for this.)
- Roll in finely shredded coconut and place on wax paper.
Freeze before serving.
Jif Natural, Skippy Natural, and Earth Balance peanut butter have sweeteners and oils in them and will NOT work in this recipe.
2. If your peanut butter is unsalted, add a scant 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the recipe.
3. For best results, use very finely shredded coconut to roll Carob Balls in. If you don’t have finely shredded coconut, you can place regular, unsweetened shredded coconut in a blender and blend until it is fine.
More Carob Recipes
Would you like more carob recipes? I will be posting a carob milkshake recipe very soon.