cacao tea benefits: theobromine versus caffeine
a biased comparison…
Why anyone would choose coffee over cacao beats us, but then, we at Nibbed are fans of the smooth goodness of cacao, so we would be a biased observer. While armies of coffee drinkers shake off their jitters, in the Caribean and South America, a more relaxed bunch is feeling the effects of their cacao drink well into midday. Coffee contains Caffeine, one of the legal highs with widespread use, and has its benefits. Its distant cousin cacao, contains theobromine, a substance that has enjoyed quite a bit of notoriety lately. Caffeine and Theobromine differ at a chemistry level by only one methyl group. The latter is a carbon atom with 3 hydrogens attached. This “minor” difference is what makes coffee active on our Central Nervous System. Theobromine doesn’t access the Central Nervous system and as a result, cacao has a different effect on the human body.
classical music vs industrial techno
The fast, heart palpitation and sometimes cold sweat-inducing effect of too many coffees can send you on an emotional rollercoaster. Theobromine on the other hand is a mild mood booster. A calm serene moment arrives after a cup of warm cacao tea. It seems that coffee and cacao brews tend to attract different audiences. On one hand, we have the espresso drinking fast-paced urban dwellers that need a quick fix so that they reach the next destination point of their rat race. On the other hand, we have those that focus on being here and now, drinking a cup of steaming cacao tea. The attitude that goes with a drink speaks volumes about its purpose. Cacao tea aims at those that want to enjoy life at a pace that they can own.
lasting effect vs a quick fix
The half-life of theobromine is 7 hours in humans and 17.5 hours in dogs. Half-life means that 50% of the substance is still present in the bloodstream for that amount of time. Coffee has a max half-life of 2.5 hours. Each caffeine high is followed by a low. In the case of theobromine, that cycle is much smoother. Theobromine has shown to provide us with increased energy. This feel-good effect is what has made chocolate the top romantic gift after diamonds. The feeling of contentment that cacao provides will linger on your taste buds for the day.
relaxed muscles vs muscle spasms
Theobromine relaxes the muscular system and the respiratory system. It relaxes the muscle tissues and dilates blood vessels. While there is no minimum requirement for its intake for humans, it is sold as a food supplement in the bodybuilding scene. The hard-working cocoa farmers in the Caribbean also use cacao tea as an effective way to keep their energy replenished throughout the day. Coffee on the other hand will allow for a short burst of energy, useful in the restaurant industry. Again the short boost in itself is not an issue, but the cycle of boom and bust is not healthy in the long run.
addictive vs, well …,sometimes addictive
Caffeine hits the Central Nervous System and builds a relationship with our neurons in a way that, well, we end being addicted to it. Coffee addiction is evident when we try to stop drinking coffee. Theobromine impact soft muscle tissue which doesn’t make it physically addictive. While cacao tea will not make you a chocolate junkie, Oreos will. A study in rats showed that Oreos are as addictive as cocaine. But the high-fat/ high-sugar make up of commercial chocolate is the key factor in this phenomenon, not pure cacao. Incidentally, the withdrawal symptoms of sugar and opiates coincide in manifestation. Caffeine Withdrawal symptoms include headache, irritability, and fatigue.
straight from the heart
Cardiovascular stimulation is one of the key effects of theobromine. Something warm and kind envelops us after a cup of drinking cacao. It naturally lowers blood pressure and a patent has been filed in the US with regards to theobromine use for HDL (good cholesterol) increase. Caffeine can raise your blood pressure but there is no define connection between heart disease and coffee consumption.
teeth care vs teeth stains
We are all familiar with the coffee stains on our teeth. A factor that contributes to cavities and decay, can be kept in check with regular visits to the dentist. At the same time research has shown that theobromine can strengthen teeth better than fluoride. Of course, by consuming more chocolate we will also consume a heap of sugar which will not help our chompers. On the other hand, pure cacao products have zero or very little sugar.
as good as a cough syrup
Research has shown that theobromine is effective in treating coughs for which no pharmaceutical treatment exists. It is as effective as codeine (another alkaloid) without opioid receptor implications. What is interesting is the fact that natural remedies are being tested for conditions that are not covered by the pharmaceutical industry…why is that really? (Rant over).
theobromine is fatal …. for your dog
Theobromine can be fatal in small doses. For dogs and cats. And that’s why you should not give your pets chocolate. For humans, in cases of heavy overdosing, one can experience sweating and headaches. Theobromine in combination with caffeine has been tested as a means to control the coyote population.
Caffeine and theobromine, while both members of the methyl family can affect human health in diverse ways. There are days that a shot of espresso is needed for that bit of extra va-va-voom in you. But most of the time, the smooth mindful energy of cacao will help us remain grounded and smile at life’s adversities.