Theobromine and caffeine or the similar effect of coffee and chocolate


Originally a South American evergreen tree called Theobroma cacao or The true cacao tree has been cultivated since the 5th century. The fruit of the cacao tree is about 30 cm long and under the thick surface layer are a number of seeds - cocoa beans - about the size of almonds.

The cocoa beans become cocoa mass after processing, which mainly involves fermentation, roasting and grinding. This is the basis for the world's favourite sweet, chocolate. Pressing separates the cocoa butter from the cocoa mass and then grinds the dry part of the mass into cocoa powder.


Cocoa beans are the largest natural source of a substance called theobromine. In addition to cocoa and chocolate, it is also found in tea, mate and, to a small extent, coffee. It is an alkaloid that causes the typical taste of cocoa. Theobromine not only has a positive effect on our appetites, but also affects the functioning of our body with a similar effect to that of caffeine when we drink coffee.


Theobromine has similarities to caffeine in terms of its function as anadenosine antagonist. Caffeine has the ability to latch onto adenosine receptor sites in our body to stimulate them while preventing adenosine from binding to these receptors. Adenosine is a substance that is produced naturally in our body as a result of the use of internal energy for the body's needs.

The moment adenosine binds to the receptors, we begin to feel fatigue and drowsiness. Caffeine therefore binds itself to these receptors and prevents adenosine or fatigue. Theobromine is similar to caffeine in this way, so it too can be picked up by the adenosine receptors and thus also works against the feeling of fatigue. Unlike caffeine, however, it differs in the way it stimulates body functions.


Caffeine is a boost for a tired body. It constricts blood vessels and gets the blood flowing. Itraises blood pressure and gets the body ready to work. Consuming chocolate or cocoa may also delay fatigue, but our bodies are not contracted andstrained to work. On the contrary, it is relaxed as theobromine has the effect of relaxing the blood vessels and muscles. Although it is stimulating, due to the prevention of fatigue, it is also a calming substance.


For these reasons ,it is suggested to use theobromine with or instead of caffeine. Wherever we need the power of caffeine, but want to reduce its, for some, too strong influence on the activation of the organism, we can eat a piece of chocolate together with coffee. Coffee and chocolate will thus divide the tasks of the adenosine receptors. Fatigue is relieved and our body benefits not only from theenergising effect of coffee, but also from the calming effect of theobromine.


In case we want to avoid drowsiness and at the same time wish to avoid caffeine completely, having a piece of chocolate seems to be the best idea. Such situations can arise, for example, in the evening when we still need energy to complete our work rest, but we are also aware that consuming caffeine late would disturb our sleep.


Using chocolate against fatigue is a great and really tasty alternative to coffee for those of us who have trouble processing caffeine. The way our bodies are able to cope with caffeine varies from person to person. Some people have no problem drinking 5 cups of coffee during the day, while for others, their first coffee of the morning is also their last.

If you are one of the slow caffeine metabolizers, i.e. those who cannot handle higher or more frequent amounts of coffee and therefore caffeine in the body, chocolate or cocoa can be a really nice alternative to coffee. Besides preventing fatigue, theobromine has other positive effects on our body.


With its calming and relaxing effect on the body, it helps to balance stressful situations and thus protects us from their adverse effects on our psyche. It is therefore a guardian of the "good mood". It also helps with reduced sensitivity to insulin, which is an important substance for the processing of nutrients and the proper functioning of our body.

In their study on theobromine ,the Spanish researchers focused on the importance of its effects on the human body. Their findings suggest that theobromine could be taken as an anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and cardiovascular protective substance without negative side effects.

The results of the study point not only to the positive effect caused by entrapment in adenosine receptors, but to its other actions in the body, such as regulation of cellular expression and the ability to reduce oxidative stress.


Chocolate as a natural antioxidant helps fightfree radicals in the body, any increased amount of which results in the aforementioned oxidative stress that leads to other serious diseases. Theobromine helps the body deal with inflammation and in wound healing. Another interesting finding was the effect of theobromine on reducing acute symptoms in asthma.

Thestudy also shows that consuming cocoa helps to protect the surface of tooth enamel. Although in this respect, we need to consider the form of theobromine we ingest. In addition to the high concentration of theobromine, chocolate contains a number of sugars which in turn promote inflammation and tooth decay. It would therefore be preferable to consume chocolate or cocoa without sugar in this respect.


Theobromine, together with caffeine, is one of the substances that can affect cell metabolism or the structure of DNA. Their ability to bind to DNA could affect their expression with long-term use of caffeine or theobromine.

According to the study, this could mean that the inclusion of theobromine, or cocoa for example, in our regular diet could lead to changes in certain DNA properties and thus modify the negative consequences of damaged DNA, such as neurodegenerative diseases like breast cancer.


Of course, cocoa or chocolate must also be consumed in a balanced and ideal proportion to our body's health, so that theobromine works properly and positively for our body. Its excessive consumption would outweigh its positive benefits to the negative effects on our health. The recommended dose is 100-300 mg of theobromine per day, which is equivalent to about 30 g of dark chocolate.