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Aly writes: “I recently bought some carob at my local organic food store on a whim and now I’m wondering about its nutritional profile. Is it a healthy alternative to chocolate? What are the pros and cons?”

What is Carob?
Carob is an ingredient that you only seem to run into in health food stores—or in the “healthy foods” aisle of the regular grocery store.  It’s usually used as an alternative to chocolate and you’ll find it in a number of chocolate-like formats: as a powder for baking, chips that you can add to cookies, or as a flavoring in candy, baked goods, and hot beverage mixes. So, what are the advantages of substituting carob for chocolate?

What are the Health Benefits of Carob?
Perhaps the primary benefit of carob as a chocolate substitute is that, unlike cocoa, carob contains no caffeine or theobromine. Both of these chemicals (which belong to a family of substances called methylxanthines) are stimulants; while caffeine works primarily on the central nervous system, theobromine stimulates the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems.

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