two hands holding cacao

Cacao’s Theobromine–the secret to chocolate’s health benefits

Discover theobromine

Theobroma cacao is the name given to the seeds of cacao trees. And the main active alkaloid found within these seeds is theobromine, which is thought to be pretty powerful, nutritionally. In fact, the compound’s characteristics include the ability to energize and heal our bodies. History’s biggest propoents of theobroma cacao were probably the Aztecs. They revered cacao’s theobromine as a substance worthy of the gods. They indulged in these dark, exotic seeds to prepare physically and spiritually for battles as well as for love. It is well known that Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, drank many goblets–some historians say as many as 50 cups daily–of a cacao-infused beverage to be at his most virile when walking into his harem.

Better than caffeine?

Theobromine itself is considered a stimulant. Its effect is caffeine-like. Although it does not have caffeine, it causes stimulation in the heart and nervous system that’s similar to caffeine. (This is actually the reason dogs shouldn’t have chocolate. The stimulating effects can cause a serious healthy risk to their systems.)

Chocolate is believed to contain caffeine. However there is recent speculation that the caffeine-like effects of chocolate may come strictly from its theobromine and phenylethylamine, a natural amphetamine linked with romance. In fact, it is the combination of these two ingredients that many experts say produces an aphrodisiac effect. Theobromine stimulates the nervous and cardiac systems and phenylethylamine acts as an antidepressant.

Chocolate for your sex life

To test the alkaloid, it was orally fed to rats to prove the effects on the sexual organs. A study completed in 1992 demonstrated that pure theobromine caused greater sperm count and testicular swelling. But, once it’s mixed with cacao extract (to more closely resemble chocolate), it doesn’t have the strength to produce the same type of growth. Although the test did show that the chocolate-like mixture produced irregularities in high doses, whether or not the theobromine was in fact producing healthy sperm count was not mentioned.

Theobroma cacao may have given the Aztecs their strength to raise an empire. But theobromine without the cacao can’t. It doesn’t produce aphrodisiac effects without the other elements of cacao. The polyphenols of cacao act as antioxidants which protect the body’s health. They protect against free radicals. In fact, their antioxidant effects are actually similar to the health benefits of much-touted oolong and green teas.

Processing cacao to make chocolate requires the addition of ingredients like sugar. Unfortunately, diluting the cacao with things like sugar and dairy dilute its potency. That being said, darker chocolate contains higher amount of theobromine and polyphenols than milk chocolate. So when choosing chocolate, the rule is the darker the better.

Of course, dark chocolate doesn’t have the strength of Montezuma’s virility drink. But it’s definitely rich in beneficial nutrients. Studies show that, although it may not give you the prowess of an Aztec ruler, dark chocolate promotes relaxation, better circulation and strengthens the nervous system. Health food never tasted so delicious.

If your mouth is watering for chocolate, we have just the thing! Try this recipe for Hand-Rolled Dark Chocolate Truffles. It’s a four-ingredient recipe and it’s packed with all the nutrients your body is craving.




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