Derived from the cacoa tree the Greeks called, Food of the Gods, theobromine is an alkaloid found in specific foods, usually chocolate based. It is similar to caffeine, but acts much gentler and is non-addictive to the human central nervous system. However, it can be highly toxic if ingested by animals, especially dogs and cats. It is used for many ailments, including edema, mild depression, angina, asthma, arteriosclerosis, and as a muscular stimulant as well as a minor diuretic. Studies are underway for using theobromine as a possible cancer and birth defect preventative. In addition, because of its caffeine-like properties, this alkaloid can be used as a vasodialator, which opens up the vessels bringing blood to the lungs, brain and heart. Some examples of foods high in or containing theobromine are listed below. Do keep in mind that the chemical reaction the body has when theobromine is ingested is different from its reaction to regular, coffee-based caffeine. It is accepted and absorbed by the body more readily reducing common side effects that can be associated with or as a result of coffee, such as nervousness and fatigue. Overall, if you have any sensitivity to caffeine, checking with your doctor before consuming foods containing theobromine is recommended.
1. Cocoa Powder
It should be no surprise that chocolate is high on the list considering the fact that theobromine is derived from the cacao plant. The highest amount is found in Dutch chocolate produced as an unsweetened alkali powder coming in at approximately 2,395 mgs.
2. Dark Chocolate
Theobromine is a bitter alkaloid, so dark chocolate is a perfect food containing this phytochemical with the bittersweet taste.
3. Dry Pudding Packs
Similar to the Dutch chocolate powder, theobromine is found in dry chocolate pudding mixes.
4. Instant Breakfast
Those chocolate instant breakfast powders you can add milk to contain theobromine.
5. Chocolate Frozen Yogurt
If you want a theobromine kick on a hot summer day, grab a chocolate frozen yogurt.
6. Popular Candy
M & M's, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, etc. are a few examples of the many chocolate candies containing theobromine.
7. Chocolate Baked Goods
Muffins, cakes and cookies with any amount of chocolate ingredients (including chocolate chips, but not carob as carob does not contain theobromine) will contain theobromine.
8. Kola Nut
Originally used in soft drinks, such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi, the kola nut contains caffeine and theobromine and is often chewed for its stimulating effect. Soft drinks now use artificial ingredients that mimik the kola nut properties. Kola nut is often used to alleviate whooping cough and asthma.
The fruit from this climbing plant, indigenous to South America, is about the size of a coffee bean, but packs almost twice as much caffeine. Theobromine from guarana contains approximately 200-400 mgs. It is often found within the ingredients of many popular energy drinks and shots. Guarana has also been linked to improving memory
10. Yerba Mate' Tea
This tea from the leaf of the yerba mate' (mah-tay) tree contains caffeine, theophylline and theobromine. These ingredients create a calm energy when ingested rivaling the static, often anxiety ridden, rise and fall from coffee bean or legume caffeine. Yerba mate's unique botanical blend has been considered a healthier choice.