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Life is everything. Let's make it a healthy one!

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Life is everything. Let's make it a healthy one!

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What Is Theobromine & What Foods Can I Find It In?

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3D-model of Theobromine (src)

Theobromine is an alkaloid, primarily found in chocolate and cocoa beans. It has a milder but similar effect to that of caffeine on the human nervous system.

Theobromine is safe to consume and has fewer adverse effects than caffeine. Both caffeine and theobromine are classified as xanthines.

Dark chocolate contains substantial amounts of theobromine.

Theobromine: A Bitter Powder

Theobromine, often referred to as Xantheose, is a fascinating compound with a distinct profile. It is a water-insoluble, crystalline substance renowned for its unmistakably bitter taste. This bitterness is a characteristic feature that defines the flavor of cocoa and chocolate.

The presence of theobromine in cocoa and chocolate contributes to their complex and delightful taste profiles.

In addition to its role in flavor, theobromine has garnered attention for its potential health benefits.

Many Benefits of Theobromine

Theobromine offers numerous health benefits, which you can explore in Theobromine: 11 Research-Backed Benefits . For example, it's known for its potential antioxidant properties and its role in improving blood flow.

Both theobromine and caffeine are psychoactive compounds that positively influence our moods and alertness. Theobromine, found in higher amounts than caffeine, appears to be responsible for several of the positive effects associated with cocoa consumption.

Theobromine is safe for humans and has fewer unwanted effects than caffeine (source ).

Theobromine for Weight Loss

Theobromine has been suggested to play a role in weight regulation. Some reports indicate a reduction in body fat mass in humans, but these findings require further confirmation in studies.

Theobromine in Chocolates

Theobromine is present in dark and milk chocolates but not in white chocolates. For nutrition and health promotion purposes, sugar-free dark chocolates are recommended due to their higher theobromine content and antioxidant phenolic compounds (source ).

Theobromine, when consumed within normal intake ranges, contributes to the positive effects of chocolate. However, at higher intakes, mood effects may turn negative (source ).

Theobromine is Safe for Humans

Theobromine in chocolate is generally safe for human consumption and is considered safe by regulatory authorities. However, it's essential to be aware that theobromine affects different species differently.

In humans, the metabolism of theobromine occurs at a reasonable rate, allowing for safe consumption of chocolate and cocoa-containing products. However, in some animals, such as dogs, theobromine is metabolized much more slowly, making them more susceptible to theobromine poisoning (source ).

In rare cases, excessive consumption of theobromine-containing products by humans, especially in the form of concentrated theobromine supplements, can lead to adverse effects. Therefore, it's advisable for individuals to enjoy chocolate and cocoa products in moderation to ensure their safety and well-being.

When to Exercise Caution with Theobromine

Theobromine has been reported to stimulate lipolysis, a process that breaks down fats, and increase plasma-free fatty acids. While this can have certain health benefits, individuals with diabetes should be cautious. An increase in plasma-free fatty acids may affect blood sugar control, so it's important for them to monitor their theobromine intake.

However, moderation is key for everyone when consuming theobromine-containing products. Excessive consumption can lead to negative side effects, such as anxiety or sleep disturbances. To maintain a balanced and healthy diet, it's advisable to consume theobromine in amounts consistent with recommended guidelines or typical serving sizes.

Foods Containing Theobromine

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Theobromine is abundant in Cocoa powder

Theobromine is most commonly found in sweets, beverages, dairy products, and egg products. Examples of food sources include:

Foods in Our Nutrition Tool

You can find regularly updated top-ranked lists of foods for over 200+ nutrients in our nutrition tool. If you are interested in foods with the highest theobromine content, we recommend visiting our tool. Here is our top-ranked list of foods containing Theobromine.

Sara Niemelä

co-founder Care Omnia, Head Content Creator


Nutrition is my passion. I've spent thousands upon thousands of hours reading, analyzing, categorizing and comparing research studies.

I’m a wife and a mother of three. I enjoy the outdoors, cooking, and spending time with my family.