Applications To Health Promotion And Disease Prevention

Carob seed endosperm

The composition of carob seed endosperm flour (crude locust bean gum) is given in Table 35.1. Galactomannan, comprising more than 90%, is the major compound in carob seed gum. It is is a linear polysaccharide based on a b-(l/4)-mannane backbone to which single D-galactopyranosyl residues are attached via a-(l/6) linkages (da Silva & Goncalves, 1990). As stated above, LBG is widely used as an additive in the food and non-food industries, owing to its abilities to provide high viscosity at low concentrations (0.1—1%) and to function as a water binder. LBG solutions are only slightly affected by pH, added ions, and heat processing. It is used in ice cream preparation, in paper and textile manufacturing (as a strengthening agent), for rheology (flow) control and as a thickener in latex paints, in oil well fracturing and drilling, and in gels used in blasting agents. Control of the rheological properties of the aqueous phase confers the desired product properties, such as stability, texture, and controlled release of activity in various pharmaceutical and cosmetic products (Sittikijyothin et al., 2005).

Being non-digestible, locust bean gum is considered to be a dietary fiber in foods (Dakia et al., 2008). It increases the dietary fiber in a food product without increasing the calories, and because of this it is useful in developing reduced calorie food. It is used it as a fat substitute in mayonnaise, and in many dairy products, and is considered to be an excellent alternative to gluten because it is non-allergenic and safe. The presence of this substance in foods also increases the swelling of the food once in the stomach, which encourages a feeling of fullness. It is considered to be a natural appetite suppressant.

Locust bean gum can be used in the treatment or control of hyperlipidaemia (high cholesterol in plasma). It can also be made into sugar-free, starch-free flour for diabetics (Wenzl et al., 2003).

Another medicinal value of locust bean gum is its ability to reduce gastrointestinal conditions, especially diarrhea in infants. Utilization of carob gum as an adjunct to oral rehydrating solution showed promising results for the treatment of infantile diarrhea (Cruz, 1955). Carob gum is able to act as a thickener to absorb water and help bind together watery stools.

TABLE 35.1 Composition of Carob Seed Endosperm Flour (% on the Basis of Dry Matter)

Proximate Analysis (%)

Moisture 5.9

Ashes 0.7

Proteins 5.2

Lipids 1.3

Galactomannan (as carbohydrates) 92.8

The higher content of galactomannan in carob seed endosperm shows that locust bean gum is a galactomannan polysaccharide.

Reprinted from from Dakia et al. (2008), Food Hydrocollolds, 22(5), 807—818, with permission.

In addition, infants with recurrent reflux and regurgitation disease improve when fed a formula thickened with carob bean gum. Recurrent reflux and regurgitation in infants (aged 6—12 months) can inflame and damage the esophagus, thus affecting the nutritional status and resulting in poor growth. Locust bean gum as dietary fiber may make food more viscous in the stomach, and thus interfere with acid reflux into the esophagus (Wenzl et al., 2003).

Carob seed germ

Carob seed germ is a by-product of the carob seed gum-producing industries. The nutritional composition of carob germ meal is shown in Table 35.2. Carob seed germ represents an important source of protein for food and feed because it has a high protein content (54.7%) and contains all the known amino acids. The germ can therefore be considered a "complete protein." According the the FAO/WHO (1991) standard, all essential amino acids (EAA) are

TABLE 35.2 Overall Composition of Carob Seed Germ Meal (% on the Basis of Dry Matter)

TABLE 35.2 Overall Composition of Carob Seed Germ Meal (% on the Basis of Dry Matter)

Proximate Analysis (%)









Carbohydrates (nitrogenous free


extract including fiber)

Crude energy (kJ/g)


Amino acid content

(% protein)

(% of FAO/WHO for EAA)

Asp + Asn







Glu + Gln













Cys - Cys


(Met + Cys)













(Phe + Tyr)














Fatty acid content

(% oil)

Palmitic (C16)


Stearic (C18)


Oleic (C18:1)


Linoleic (C18:2)


Linolenic (C18:3)


These results show that carob seed germ has a high content of protein, amino acids and unsaturated fatty acids. Reprinted from Dakia et al. (2007), Food Chemistry, 102(4), 1368-1374, with permission.

These results show that carob seed germ has a high content of protein, amino acids and unsaturated fatty acids. Reprinted from Dakia et al. (2007), Food Chemistry, 102(4), 1368-1374, with permission.

present in significant amounts. The proportion of all EAA is about 33.32%. Trp is the first limiting EAA (73%), followed by Met + Cys (92%) (Yust et al., 2004; Dakia et al., 2007). Carob germ flour can also yield an isolate (by using an alkaline extraction technique followed by isoelectric precipitation of proteins) with a protein content of over 95%. This protein isolate, again with a well-balanced amino acid composition, may be an attractive ingredient for use in the production of human dietetic foods, as it has reduced levels of undesirable components (Bengoechea et al., 2008).

The amino acid profile is dominated by glutamic acid (31.44%), arginine (12.25%), and aspartic acid (7.86%). The amino acid glutamine has many important functions in the body — for example, it acts as the primary vehicle for the transfer of amino nitrogen from skeletal muscle to visceral organs, as a fuel for the rapidly dividing cells of the gastrointestinal tract and immune system, and as a substrate that permits the kidneys to excrete acid loads and protect the body against acidosis. Glutamine is considered to be a conditionally essential amino acid for critically ill and other stressed patients, because during periods of illness the metabolic rate of glutamine increases and the body is not able to synthesize sufficient glutamine to meet its needs. This is particularly true during episodes of stress, such as sepsis, injury, burns, inflammation, diarrhea, and surgery. The administration of glutamine-supplemented diets to preterm babies, or during periods of stress, or to athletes, has resulted in improvement of the person's condition. For example, glutamine-supplemented diets have been shown to regenerate muco-proteins and the intestinal epithelium, support gut barrier function, shorten hospital stays, improve immune function, and enhance patient survival (Lacey & Wilmore, 1990; Gianotti et al., 1995).

Arginine is also classified as a semi-essential or conditionally essential amino acid, depending on the developmental stage and health status of the individual. Arginine plays an important role in cell division, the healing of wounds, removing ammonia from the body, immune function, and the release of hormones (Stechmiller et al., 2005).

The lipid content of carob seed germ is about 6%. Due to the relatively low fat content, the seed germ has low caloric value, which makes it an interesting healthy food. Carob seed germ oil contains approximately 19.6% saturated fatty acids (palmitic and stearic), 34.4% mono-unsaturated fats (mainly oleic, 18:1n-9), and 44.5% polyunsaturated fats (mainly linoleic, 18:2n-6, omega-6). Unfortunately, the amount of n-3 fatty acid (a-linolenic acid, omega-3) is too low, at 0.7% of the total fats, for carob germ oil to be considered as a high nutritional quality oil (omega-3 fatty acids are compounds with potential cardiovascular benefit). However, carob seed oil is a good source of n-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid), which is defined as an "essential" fatty acid, like a-linolenic acid, since it is not synthesized in the human body and is mostly obtained from the diet. Deficits in n-6 "essential" fatty acids were correlated with the severity of atopic dermatitis, in affecting skin barrier function and cutaneous inflammation (Russo, 2009). In general, essential fatty acids, and their longer-chain more-unsaturated derivatives in particular, are essential for normal growth and cognitive development during childhood (Vlaardingerbroek et al., 2006).

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