Sacred Chocolate: Raw, Stone-Ground, Organic & Vegan > Sacred Chocolate Blog > Sacred Chocolate > Methylxanthines: Caffeine and Theobromine
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"Does cacao contain caffeine? Contrary to popular opinion, cacao is a poor source of caffeine. A typical sample of cacao nibs or beans will yield anywhere from zero to 1,000 parts per million of caffeine (less than 1/20th of the caffeine present in conventional coffee.)
Today we know that cacao is one of the richest sources of a peculiar and interesting substance known as theobromine, a close chemical relative and metabolite of caffeine.
Theobromine, like caffeine, and also like the asthma-improving methylxanthine theophylline, belong to the chemical group know as xanthine alkaloids. Chocolate products contain some caffeine, but not nearly enough to explain the attractions, fascinations, addictions and effects of chocolate.
Theobromine can form a metabolite of caffeine. This means that if one ingests caffeine, then after some time, theobromine will show up in the blood and in the urine. Though habituating, theobromine is milder and has about a quarter of the stimulating power of its sister molecule caffeine. Theobromine gently stimulates the central nervous system, relaxes smooth muscles and dilates blood vessels.
Theobromine is also a mild diuretic (increases urination) and has been used as a medical drug in cases where a heart attack had resulted in an increase in the accumulation of body fluid.
In humans, theobromine has quite long lasting effects. Liver enzymes decrease theobromine levels by only 50% between six to ten hours after consumption.
Cacao usually contains about 1 percent theobromine. Theobromine is an effective antibacterial substance. Theobromine is an effective antibacterial substance that kills steptococci mutans (the primary organism that causes cavities). Theobromine is a chemical relative of caffeine but is not a nervous system stimulant. Theobromine dilates the cardiovascular system, making the heart's job easier. This is one of the major reasons why cacao is an important part of a heart healthy diet."
SuperFoods & Naked Chocolate, David Wolfe