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Theobromine - What Should We Know?

Nadia Galinova
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Nadia Galinova
Theobromine - What Should We Know?

Theobromine is the "hidden" heart stimulant in chocolate. There are many myths and legends that sweets are harmful and should be limited. We hear everywhere, that there are a lot of harmful substances and sugar in sweets and especially in chocolate, which is true, but the sweet cocoa dessert does not only contain additives, which are harmful to us.

It turns out chocolate has a lot more benefits than we know. Why, however, is the chocolate and the cocoa it contains, recommended for children after sleep. They should drink milk with cocoa. The reason for this is that cocoa contains theobromine.

Theobromine is a type of crystalline alkaloid, which, as we have already said, is found in cocoa and in the favorite of children and adults, chocolate. Theobromine belongs to the so-called purine group, which also includes caffeine and theophylline.

Despite its name, theobromine does not contain bromine. Its name comes from theobroma, which is a type of cocoa tree. The name is Greek and contains two words - "theo" - god and "brosi" - food. In literal translation, its name means "food of the gods".

Theobromine is insoluble in water and is mostly white in color. Theobromine has the same effect as caffeine, but weaker.

Theobromine is an isomer of theophylline - they have the same chemical composition, but are also different. Theobromine's melting point is 337°C.

Image: TinaKirk

Theobromine was first discovered in 1841 by the Russian chemist Alexander Voskresensky. He found it in the composition of cocoa beans. Its extraction from them took place in 1878. This alkaloid is the first to be discovered in the composition of cocoa and chocolate.

5 grams of cocoa powder contains 108 mg of theobromine.

Theobromine can also be found in cola seeds, guarana beans, cocoa and tea. Other plants rich in theobromine are: theobroma cacao; theobroma bicolor; yerba mate; camellia sinesis, cola acuminata; theobroma angustifolium; guarana; Arabica coffee.

After being discovered at the end of the 19th century, this alkaloid was put into use in 1916, because it was written about in an article and it was recommended for the treatment of edema - a disease, which causes some parts of the body to retain a lot of fluid. An American magazine says, that theobromine has also been used to treat other health problems, such as atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, angina pectoris and hypertension.

Nowadays theobromine is used to dilate blood vessels, it is also used as a diuretic and also as a heart stimulant.

Theobromine was also tested on animals when they had birth defects. Even without the consumption of food, theobromine is formed in our body because it is a product of caffeine, which is processed in our liver. As already mentioned, caffeine and theobromine are very similar, but the latter affects our nervous system less.

It is important to note, however, that theobromine still stimulates the heart to some extent. Theobromine is not addictive, but it is believed that one of the substances in cocoa, which causes addiction to chocolate is precisely theobromine.

The "culprit" of chocolate gaining popularity as an aphrodisiac is again theobromine. This is because it significantly accelerates the heart rate and dilates blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure.


Theobromine helps a lot in many diseases, especially bronchial asthma. A study conducted in the 1980s indicated that there may be a link between theobromine's effects and the risk for people suffering from prostate cancer.

Some other effects that can occur when consuming theobromine are: drowsiness, tremors, restlessness, anxiety, as well as a significant increase in urine production. Other side effects of consuming theobromine are loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.

As a conclusion to everything that has been said so far, we can recommend that you consume foods, which contain a lot of cocoa, which of course should be done within the normal range.

There is nothing better than combining healthy and delicious foods. To do this, check out these healthy recipes for homemade chocolate spread, homemade chocolates or treat yourself to some brownies with real chocolate or full fat cocoa.