Theobroma Cacao Seed Extract: Sources And Benefits

What is Theobroma cacao?

Theobroma cacao can be translated as chocolate, food of the gods. This tree is native to the tropical regions of the Americas. The beans are the source of the cocoa used to make chocolate. Over the past decade chocolate has had a blossoming reputation as being heart healthy.* This is because of the cocoa content in chocolate and is the tip of the cocoa health iceberg, so to speak. 

How does Theobroma cacao support cellular function?

One of the scientific findings that peaked our interest in sourcing a cocoa extract was a small study that looked at changes in mitochondrial structure and function.* Mitochondria are best known for producing cellular energy in the form of ATP. This occurs on the inner folds called cristae. In general, having a higher density of cristae means that the capacity for producing ATP is increased. The same would be true if something increases the size and number of mitochondria. In the study, eating dark chocolate did both.* The key driver of this process appears to be cocoa polyphenols, which are typically found in higher amounts in dark chocolate than milk chocolate. 

When we did a deeper dive into both cocoa, and its polyphenols (usually called cocoa flavanols), the fit for Eternus became stronger and stronger. We realized that having both cocoa extract and grape extract should positively influence multiple areas of cell function and mitochondrial performance.* 

Having both cocoa extract and grape extract should positively influence multiple areas of cell function and mitochondrial performance.

Once we decided to add cocoa extract the next step was coming up with a suitable source. Cocoa is in theory a rich source of polyphenols. But in practice, polyphenol content of cocoa products vary widely from one cocoa product to the next. This occurs largely because of how cocoa is processed. The result is that some cocoa products can have very little polyphenol content. 

Cocoa is also a rich source of a bitter compound called theobromine. This compound is a weaker cousin to caffeine, influencing similar brain processes but not quite as strongly. About 10% of the caffeine we consume is converted into theobromine in the body, and both caffeine and theobromine are nootropic compounds, with potential to positively influence aspects of cognitive performance.* 

Similar to caffeine, theobromine is a “just right” amount compound. More can be better till the “just right” range is hit (which can vary individually) after which, like caffeine, theobromine can worsen the same things it was previously helping (e.g., attention, focus, mood). 

The amount of theobromine in cocoa powders can vary about 5-fold, with darker chocolates generally having more than milk chocolates. Therefore, a key thing we needed to know was how much theobromine a cocoa extract contained, so we could make an informed dosing decision. 

Most of the cocoa products consumed don’t guarantee the amount of theobromine, making decisions about how much to consume impossible to calculate. Finding a cocoa extract standardized for theobromine was a challenge, but we were eventually able to identify a company that has a patented process for producing a standardized cocoa extract. This is the cocoa extract included in Eternus.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products and information on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The information on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please speak with an appropriate healthcare professional when evaluating any wellness related therapy. Please read the full medical disclaimer before taking any of the products offered on this site.

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