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Coffee and Cacao Beans: Rich Sources of Phytonutrients

December 13, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 121

Sub Titled- Singing the Praises of the World's Healthiest Beans

While we have talked about the health benefits of dark chocolate and brewed cacao products in a previous article, we did not get in to much detail. This article may be considered as too scientific by some, but it is very important to know what is healthy and unhealthy for our bodies. Typically, when our medical doctor prescribes a pill, we take it without reservation. Is that wise? When we buy prepared food and drinks at the grocery store, we assume that our government only allows healthy products to be sold in our stores. Is that true? The answer to both questions is sadly no.

Note: This article serves to inform you of the healthful benefits found in both caffeine and cacao beans so that you can make informed decisions regarding your diet and habits. We are not suggesting you change your diet drastically or stop taking prescribed medication without discussing it with your doctor.

What are phytochemicals?

Most people are familiar with the basic nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Less often discussed are phytochemicals, which are classified as "nonessential nutrients" There are thousands of phytochemicals that we are aware of and thousands more to be discovered, each with their own healing properties

Both the coffee and cacao beans are rich sources of phytochemicals. Caffeine and theobromine, provided by these beans, are photochemical alkaloids with numerous health benefits. Caffeine is widely known and is found in coffee, some teas, and over the counter medications. Theobromine, which is not as commonly known as caffeine, is found in dark chocolate and cacao brews. The photochemical alkaloids caffeine and theobromine are beneficial to the human body.

Health Benefits of Caffeine

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, which increases respiration and blood circulation by dilating your blood vessels. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic. Caffeine increases the body's circulation while stimulating the oxidation of fatty acids, contributing to weight reduction and better athletic performance. Caffeine is often combined with aspirin to treat headaches. Remember, moderation is the key to healthy caffeine consumption.

Caffeine Facts

Plants containing caffeine have been used by different cultures over centuries. Caffeinated teas were used to treat headaches, coughs, and even the plague. Interestingly enough, only in recent history is caffeine used to avoid slumber and relieve fatigue. Caffeine is now one of the most widely used phytochemicals. Contrary to popular beliefs, caffeine is not addictive, but it can be habit-forming. Normal levels of caffeine consumption are not toxic to humans but are very toxic to dogs, cats and horses.

Health Benefits of Theobromine

Theobromine has similar effects as caffeine but to a lesser degree, making it a healthy alternative to those with caffeine sensitivities.. Like caffeine, theobromine is a diuretic and a stimulant. Theobromine dilates your blood vessels, helping lower blood pressure. Unlike caffeine, theobromine does not affect the central nervous system yet remains a stimulant. Theobromine can also relax bronchia muscles in the lungs, making it beneficial for people with asthma and patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Theobromine is also used as cough medicine. Studies show that theobromine acts positively on the vagus nerve, which runs from the lungs to the brain. Physicians in the Middle East recommend the consumption of 4 cups of coffee daily. They believe this limits heart disease and colorectal cancer, while reducing the risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. There are also claims that coffee consumption reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, depression, and prostate cancer. Studies have also shown that high coffee consumption is associated with decreased risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Researchers cannot determine what it is in coffee that produces these healthful benefits. We can only assume that coffee's positive effects are due to the high amount of phytochemicals found in every cup.

Facts about Theobromine

Theobromine is found in the cacao beans of the Theobroma cocoa tree. The tree produces the pods that cacao beans used to make roasted and brewed cacao beans, cocoa, and chocolate. Although theobromine is not harmful to humans, it is highly toxic to some domestic animals including dogs and horses. Theobromine has a bitter flavor, and is what gives dark chocolate its bitter taste. While theobromine levels are highest in dark chocolates, it is also present in teas and cola nuts. Caffeine and theobromine are both stimulants, but theobromine does not affect the central nervous system as caffeine does. Therefore, brewed cacao makes a wonderful drink for those that are sensitive to caffeine.

Health Benefits of Brewed Cacao

Consumption of theobromine via brewed cacao or dark chocolate has been shown to help decrease blood pressure, improve cholesterol ratio, and increase insulin sensitivity. Consuming cacao has also been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and blood clots, while dilating the arteries to improve blood flow. Cacao exerts strong anti-inflammatory effects on the body, helping to prevent osteoporosis. It also boosts blood flow to key areas of the brain for two to three hours after consumption, suggesting that consuming cacao helps increase performance in tasks that requires an alert mind. It also triggers the production of endorphins in the body, which create a feeling of happiness. Just one cup of cacao brew per day has been shown to lower C-reactive protein levels, a strong marker of cardiovascular disease risk.


In this article we targeted the numerous health benefits of caffeine and theobromine, which are only two phytochemicals out of thousands. There is clearly many more health benefits to the coffee and cacao beans than previously thought. As discussed above, consumption of both caffeine and cacao can have numerous benefits. However, please keep in mind that moderation is key, and abuse of either of these plant alkaloids can be devastating.

Side-bar:Some are curious as to why preserving the rain forest and prairies is important to human-kind. One reason is the abundance of phytochemicals found in these climates. Plants produce these chemicals to protect themselves, and recent research demonstrates that these phytochemicals can also protect humans against diseases. Thousands of phytochemicals lay undiscovered in plants that don't even have a common name yet, proving there is much to be learned from the rain forest and prairies!

Customer service is the most important product we have. We offer information about the health benefits of cacao and caffeine for your benefit. We simplify the current findings so they are easy to understand. Come visit us at for more information, and to register for a free e-book filled with healthy and delicious recipes by our Master Chef Cacao.

Source: EzineArticles
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