Theobromine Food Health Benefits

Theobromine Food Health Benefits explains help and harm from theobromine in your diet. Specifically, I explain an investigation into theobromine in layman’s terms.

Theobromine Food Health Benefits Audience

I wrote Theobromine Food Health Benefits for people who are learning about theobromine as a nutrient. Especially people who need to know how it helps teeth, cough, asthma, blood pressure.

Theobromine Food Health Benefits

This is my review of an investigation into health benefits of theobromine foods[1].


To provide evidence that theobromine, a methylxanthine related to caffeine and present in high levels in cocoa, may contribute to the appeal of chocolate.


The study recruited 84 healthy adults to test theobromine by mouth in doses of 250 mg, 500 mg, or 1000 mg. Then tests were performed in five 6-hour sessions separated by 48 hours or more. Also, these test groups were compared to 200 mg caffeine or a placebo. The investigators compared mood and cognitive measures. As well as heart rate and blood pressure.


Caffeine had no effect on heart rate. But theobromine increased heart rate with greater increases at higher doses (dose-dependent). Caffeine increased blood pressure, but theobromine did not.

Mood and cognitive measures are more complex and often vary between subjects. However, the study did show that caffeine produced typical stimulation effects. For theobromine, results are less clear with little effect at the 250 mg dose. But there were some negative mood effects at higher doses.


In conclusion, the authors state:

theobromine showed differential effects depending on dose: at 250 mg it showed limited positive effects on mood that became negative at higher doses. It also dose-dependently increased heart rate. Together, this suggests that theobromine at normal intake levels, as can be found in a standard 40-g bar of dark chocolate, may contribute to the positive effects of chocolate.

Health Benefits Further Reading

For more information about the health benefits of Theobromine & Caffeine see Chapter 10 of Fruit and Vegetable Phytochemicals[3]. Because it has an interesting chart of:

Also, it includes extensive references to theobromine research. But, as with prior research, there is a mixture of theobromine with caffeine and other methylxanthines. However, it is interesting to note the links with:
  • Cardiovascular Diseases (High Blood Pressure – Hypertension) – “Theobromine has the ability to reduce central systolic blood pressure”. Also, “beneficial effects of cocoa on the lipid profile, observing a direct effect of TB increasing HDL-cholesterol levels in healthy individuals”.
  • Central Nervous System (Alertness) – “Theobromine improves alertness without inducing hypertension, alteration of heart beat, or insomnia as occurs with Caffeine”.
  • Respiratory System (Cough, Airway Hyperactivity) – “A safe and natural alternative [to codeine] could be Theobromine since it has been shown to prevent cough”.

Earlier research also reveals other benefits[2]:

  • Oral Health (Enamel Protection) – “consistent and remarkable protection of the enamel surface upon application of a 200 mg/L theobromine solution”.
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases (Asthma) – “theobromine and caffeine improve lung function and produce bronchodilatation in asthma patients”.
  • Psycho-Stimulants – “the combination of caffeine and theobromine in the proportions found in cacao has psycho-stimulant effects”.
  • Sleep – “the largest contributor to sleep duration was theobromine. […] The fact that cacao consumption is not linked to sleep disturbances and that theobromine is beneficial must be taken into appreciation”.

Your Theobromine Food Health Benefits

In conclusion, you can see that theobromine has many potential health benefits. But much more research is needed before we can understand its help in specific health conditions. Also, we need better guidance on the maximum intake of theobromine to avoid harm.

If you are concerned with the effects on your health, you should consult your doctor. But if you do not know what to ask, or need help understanding advice, then ask in the feedback form below.

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Theobromine Food Health Benefits References

  1. Baggott, Matthew J., Emma Childs, Amy B. Hart, Eveline De Bruin, Abraham A. Palmer, Joy E. Wilkinson, and Harriet De Wit. “Psychopharmacology of theobromine in healthy volunteers.” Psychopharmacology 228, no. 1 (2013): 109-118.
  2. Franco, Rafael, Ainhoa Oñatibia-Astibia, and Eva Martínez-Pinilla. “Health benefits of methylxanthines in cacao and chocolate.” Nutrients 5, no. 10 (2013): 4159-4173.
  3. Briz, María Raquel Mateos, Beatriz Sarriá Ruiz, and Laura Bravo-Clemente. “Methylxanthines: Dietary Sources, Bioavailability, and Health Benefits.” Fruit and Vegetable Phytochemicals: Chemistry and Human Health, 2 Volumes (2017): 183.