Chocolate, caffeine and theobromine

Natural and Organic Exhibition
We’ll be at the Natural and Organic Exhibition next weekend – it runs from the 17th to the 19th of this month. It was great meeting so many of you at last year’s event, and we hope to meet more of you again this year. If you need any encouragement to attend, we’re giving away free tickets to 200 lucky customers this week. Place an order, and you may just get a ticket in your box.

A Chocolate video, caffeine and theobromine, and cigarettes
I spent much of the weekend making raw chocolate and goji smoothies at Rocking the Daisies, so with that on my mind, I’ve posted a new video about raw chocolate on our blog, featuring David Wolfe explaining why he thinks raw chocolate is the best food ever.

This video has taught me something new, possibly helping me to solve a personal mystery. I’ve always believed that cacao contains caffeine, but in the video David mentions that some studies indicate raw cacao contains none at all. This would explain why, even though I avoid substances such as coffee and black tea because of the effects of caffeine on my body, raw chocolate has never had any such side-effects, even though I eat a lot of it. I hope to have found a definitive source by next week, as many conflicting secondary sources abound on the internet.

Much of the confusion seems to come from the fact that cacao contains the closely related theobromine, which has a similar chemical structure to caffeine, and, although both are stimulants, quite different effects.

Caffeine has a much more intense effect, and a rapid onset, with 50% of the caffeine dissipating from the bloodstream in two to five hours. Theobromine has a slower onset, and dissipates more slowly. 50% is still present in the bloodstream between 6 and 10 hours later. Similarly, theobromine is a mild antidepressant, while caffeine actually increases emotional stress.

Interestingly, smoking cigarettes accelerates the dissipation of both chemicals from the system, which perhaps explains why smoking and drinking coffee are so often related.

Mining in the Transkei
An update on the Transkei mining issue mentioned a few weeks ago is that Minister of Minerals and Energy Buyelwa Sonjica has declared that more consultation with the community is needed, so the mining licence will not be awarded at the end of this month, as originally planned. The threat of mining is still very real, but is for now on hold. Thanks to everyone who signed the petition. It’s great that a previously marginalised community is now able to stand up against an immensely wealthy international mining company.

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Have a great week,
the Co-op team

Comment ( 1 )

  1. Jim Graham

    Chocoalte DEFINITELY contains caffeine. Yes, about seven times less caffeine than theobromine, but it still contains caffeine. Winston J. Craig and Thuy T. Nguyen of the Department of Nutrition, Loma Linda University, analyzed seventy-nine cocoa and chocolate products and all were found to contain both theobromine and caffeine. Several scientists from the University of Los Andes, Venezuela worked on studying both ingredients in cocao. Dr Karl Harrison (Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford) says “Chocolate contains caffeine …[and] theobromine? Even the patent for “Theobromine With An Anti-carcinogenic Activity? (United States Patent 6693104) details the ratios of theobromine and caffeine found in cacao. (As well, the patent for “Antitussive Compositions? -US Patent 6348470 - declares theobromine and caffeine are both found in cacao). I could go on, giving dozens of scientific references for this fact, but you can find them just as easily by Googling “Caffeine and Theobromine in Cocoa?.