Skip to content
  • Get 10% OFF when you subscribe to our newsletter - Sign up
  • Family Run Business since 1889
  • Free UK delivery on orders £50 or over
What Is Theobromine in Chocolate?
Blog / Health and Nutrition / What Is Theobromine in Chocolate?

What Is Theobromine in Chocolate?

When you reach for a comforting bar of chocolate, you probably aren't thinking about the complex array of chemicals that contribute to its flavour and effects.

One of these compounds, though, is a molecule named theobromine.

This component is a big part of what makes chocolate, well, chocolate.

But what exactly is theobromine?

How does it affect your body, and why is it present in chocolate?

What Is Theobromine?

Theobromine is a naturally occurring compound found in cacao plants and, by extension, in chocolate.

It is a bitter alkaloid of the methylxanthine class, which also includes caffeine and theophylline.

Named after the cacao plant's scientific name, Theobroma cacao, where 'Theobroma' means 'food of the gods', theobromine contributes to the bitter taste of dark chocolate and has several effects on the body, including mild stimulation and diuresis (increased urine production).

How Much Theobromine Is In Dark Chocolate?

The theobromine content in dark chocolate can vary depending on the cocoa content of the chocolate, as the compound is naturally present in cocoa beans.

On average, dark chocolate contains about 200-250 milligrams of theobromine per 30 grams (roughly an ounce) of chocolate.

However, chocolates with a higher cocoa percentage will contain more theobromine.

For instance, a dark chocolate bar with 70-85% cocoa can contain up to 810 milligrams of theobromine per 100 grams of chocolate.

Keep in mind these are average values, and the actual theobromine content can vary based on the specific recipe and cocoa beans used.

It's always a good idea to check the packaging or contact the manufacturer if you need precise information.

Related Post: What Nutrients Are in Chocolate?

How Much Theobromine Is In Milk Chocolate?

Milk chocolate generally contains less theobromine than dark chocolate due to its lower cocoa content.

On average, milk chocolate contains about 60-70 milligrams of theobromine per 30 grams (roughly an ounce) of chocolate.

Translated to a larger quantity, milk chocolate typically contains between 200 and 250 milligrams of theobromine per 100 grams of chocolate.

Again, these figures can vary based on the specific cocoa beans and recipe used, and the actual theobromine content can be slightly more or less.

For precise information, it's recommended to check the packaging or get in touch with the manufacturer.

Related Post: When Can Babies Eat Chocolate?

How Much Theobromine Is In White Chocolate?

White chocolate actually contains very little to no theobromine.

This is because white chocolate is made from cocoa butter, sugar, and milk solids and doesn't contain any cocoa solids - the part of the cocoa bean where theobromine is found.

So, if you're sensitive to theobromine or trying to avoid it for any reason, white chocolate is a suitable choice.

However, always be sure to check the ingredients and nutritional information or contact the manufacturer if you require precise information, as recipes can vary.

Related Posts: An Introduction to Cocoa Solids.

Why Is It Called Theobromine?

The term 'theobromine' derives from the scientific name for the cacao tree, 'Theobroma cacao'.

The word 'Theobroma' is of Greek origin, with 'theo' meaning 'god' and 'broma' meaning 'food', so 'Theobroma' translates to 'food of the gods'.

The suffix 'ine' was added as it is typical for alkaloids, the class of compounds to which theobromine belongs.

Theobromine was first discovered and isolated from cacao beans in the early 19th century.

Its name, therefore, reflects both its origin (cacao) and its classification as an alkaloid.

Related Post: All the Different Types of Chocolate.

Is Theobromine Good for You?

Theobromine, like many compounds, can have both positive and negative effects on the body, and its impact can vary depending on individual health factors and the amount consumed.

On the positive side, theobromine has been shown to have several potential health benefits:

  1. Heart Health: Theobromine can stimulate heart muscle and improve blood flow, potentially benefiting overall heart health.

  2. Mood Enhancer: Similar to caffeine, theobromine can act as a mild stimulant and mood enhancer.

  3. Diuretic Effects: Theobromine can act as a diuretic, helping the body to get rid of excess fluid.

  4. Oral Health: Research has suggested that theobromine might be beneficial in protecting against tooth decay as it can help harden tooth enamel.

However, it's worth noting that most of these potential benefits are usually associated with moderate consumption of theobromine.

Large amounts can have negative effects, such as restlessness, increased heart rate, insomnia, and in severe cases, theobromine poisoning.

Additionally, sensitivity to theobromine can vary from person to person.

Some people may experience these negative effects even with moderate consumption, while others may be able to consume larger amounts without experiencing any issues.

It's also important to note that while theobromine is generally safe for humans in reasonable amounts, it is toxic to dogs and other pets, so always keep chocolate and other sources of theobromine out of their reach.

As with anything, the key is balance and moderation.

If you have any specific health concerns or conditions, it's a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before consuming products high in theobromine.

Related Post: What is Cocoa?

What is the Difference Between Theobromine and Caffeine?

Theobromine and caffeine are both alkaloids, naturally occurring compounds found in various plants, including the cacao plant.

Despite their similarities, there are key differences between the two in terms of their effects on the body.

  1. Stimulating Effect: Both theobromine and caffeine are known for their stimulating effects. However, caffeine's impact is more pronounced and immediate. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, temporarily warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. Theobromine, on the other hand, has a milder, more sustained stimulant effect.

  2. Cardiovascular Impact: Both compounds can affect the heart, but in different ways. Caffeine can cause a temporary increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Theobromine can also stimulate the heart, but its primary cardiovascular effect is as a vasodilator - it widens blood vessels, potentially lowering blood pressure.

  3. Diuretic Effects: Theobromine has more potent diuretic properties than caffeine, meaning it can increase urine production, helping the body get rid of excess fluid.

  4. Mood and Brain Effects: Caffeine can have a more noticeable impact on mood and concentration in the short term. Theobromine's effects are subtler and may contribute to the overall mood-enhancing qualities of chocolate.

  5. Presence in Foods and Drinks: Caffeine is most commonly associated with coffee and tea but is also found in energy drinks and some medications. Theobromine is most commonly found in chocolate and cocoa-based products, as well as in some types of tea.

It's important to note that individual responses to both theobromine and caffeine can vary, with some people being more sensitive to their effects than others.

As with any substance, moderation is key to preventing potential negative effects.

What Foods Contain Theobromine?

Theobromine is found in a number of foods, most commonly those derived from the cacao plant. Here's a list of the most common theobromine-containing foods:

  1. Chocolate: The amount of theobromine varies by the type of chocolate, with dark chocolate having the highest concentration, followed by milk chocolate. White chocolate contains little to no theobromine as it doesn't include any cocoa solids.

  2. Cocoa Powder: This is typically high in theobromine, given that it's a concentrated form of cocoa solids.

  3. Cocoa Nibs: These are pieces of cacao beans that have been roasted and broken into small bits. They are high in theobromine.

  4. Cacao Beans: Raw cacao beans and products derived from them, such as cacao powder, are also rich sources of theobromine.

  5. Certain Teas: Some types of tea, particularly those made from cacao shells, contain theobromine. Traditional teas like black and green tea can contain small amounts, but typically less than you would find in cocoa-based products.

  6. Some Soft Drinks: Some cola beverages may contain theobromine, although the amounts are usually quite small.

  7. Some Medications: Theobromine is sometimes used in over-the-counter and prescription medications, particularly those intended to manage symptoms of respiratory diseases, like asthma, as it can help to relax and open airways.

Remember, it's important to check the labels of any food products if you're concerned about theobromine intake, as recipes can vary.

If you are sensitive to theobromine or have any specific health concerns, it's best to consult with a healthcare professional.

Is Theobromine Safe for Dogs?

No, theobromine is not safe for dogs. In fact, it's one of the main reasons why chocolate and cocoa products are toxic to dogs.

Dogs metabolise theobromine much slower than humans, meaning it can build up to toxic levels in their system.

This can lead to a condition called theobromine poisoning.

Symptoms of theobromine poisoning in dogs can include restlessness, excessive thirst, a rapid heart rate, tremors, vomiting, diarrhoea, and in severe cases, seizures or even death.

Even small amounts of chocolate or cocoa products can be dangerous for dogs, particularly those with a smaller body weight.

Dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and cocoa beans, which contain higher levels of theobromine, are especially hazardous.

If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate or any other product containing theobromine, it's important to seek veterinary care immediately.

In such cases, it's crucial to provide as much information as possible, such as the type and amount of chocolate consumed, as this will help the vet determine the risk of theobromine poisoning.

To ensure the safety of your pet, it's best to keep all chocolate and cocoa products out of their reach.

Where Can You Buy Tasty Chocolate?

If you’re on the hunt for delicious and high-quality chocolate, look no further than Whitakers Chocolates.

With a rich heritage stretching back over 130 years, Whitakers is a name synonymous with excellence in chocolate-making in the UK.

What sets Whitakers apart is our secret family recipe, honed to perfection over generations, and our uncompromising commitment to using only the finest and most natural ingredients.

The result is a range of chocolates that not only taste exquisite but are also crafted with great care and attention to detail.

A significant aspect of Whitakers Chocolates is our ethical approach to production.

We fervently promote the use of Fairtrade Cocoa across our range, ensuring that our delicious chocolates also contribute to sustainable development and fair treatment of cocoa farmers.

Adding to our commendable practices, all Whitakers dark chocolate products have secured Vegan certification.

This means that everyone, regardless of dietary preferences or requirements, can savour their quality dark chocolates without compromise.

So, whether you’re a discerning chocolate lover, a keen follower of a vegan lifestyle, or simply someone who appreciates fine food produced ethically, Whitakers Chocolates is a brilliant choice.

Our legacy of quality and commitment to doing the right thing makes us a standout option for anyone looking to enjoy truly excellent dark chocolate.

Here are a couple of our favourite chocolate choices:

Some Notes From an Expert Chocolatier

As expert chocolatiers with decades of experience in crafting fine chocolates at Whitakers, we've come to appreciate the intricate balance of flavours and compounds that contribute to our love for chocolate.

Two of these compounds are theobromine and caffeine, which contribute to the unique allure of our favourite sweet treat.

Theobromine and caffeine are naturally present in cacao beans, the primary ingredient in chocolate.

While both of these compounds belong to the class of alkaloids and are known for their stimulating effects, their influence on our chocolate experience goes beyond mere alertness.

Theobromine, in particular, is primarily found in chocolate, with dark chocolate containing the highest levels.

The subtle, sustained stimulant effect of theobromine, combined with its ability to prompt feelings of satisfaction, is part of what gives chocolate its irresistible appeal.

Caffeine, while present in smaller amounts in chocolate compared to beverages like coffee and tea, further accentuates these mood-enhancing effects.

The stimulating properties of caffeine can lend a slight 'pick-me-up' effect to a delicious piece of chocolate, particularly dark varieties.

When combined with the rich, comforting flavours inherent in cacao, these compounds create a multi-layered experience that stimulates the senses and soothes the soul.

The pleasure we derive from chocolate is a beautiful symphony of taste, aroma, texture, and yes - the subtle influence of compounds like theobromine and caffeine.

At Whitakers, we understand the intricacies of these ingredients and their effects, which guides us in crafting chocolates that provide a satisfying, sensory experience.

We are proud to deliver chocolates made from carefully sourced, high-quality, and sustainable ingredients, honouring the natural chemistry of the cocoa bean to bring our customers the finest products.

Final Notes On Theobromine and Chocolate

Theobromine is a unique component that greatly contributes to our experience and enjoyment of chocolate.

While often overshadowed by its better-known cousin, caffeine, theobromine's subtler, sustained effects lend a certain magic to the comforting allure of chocolate.

As we've explored, theobromine is found in higher concentrations in dark chocolate but is still present in varying amounts in all chocolates derived from the cacao bean.

Its slight stimulant effect, coupled with potential health benefits, makes it a noteworthy component of our beloved chocolate.

However, it's also essential to remember that theobromine is not safe for all. Our furry friends, in particular dogs, cannot process theobromine, making chocolate toxic to them.