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Nutrients 2013, 5(10), 4159-4173; doi:10.3390/nu5104159

Health Benefits of Methylxanthines in Cacao and Chocolate

Cell and Molecular Neuropharmacology Laboratory, Neurosciences Division, Center for Applied Medical Research, Navarra University, Pamplona 31008, Spain
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona 08028, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 July 2013 / Revised: 9 September 2013 / Accepted: 23 September 2013 / Published: 18 October 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chocolate and Cocoa in Human Health)
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One may wonder why methylxanthines are so abundant in beverages used by humans for centuries, or in cola-drinks that have been heavily consumed since their appearance. It is likely that humans have stuck to any brew containing compounds with psychoactive properties, resulting in a better daily life, i.e., more efficient thinking, exploring, hunting, etc., however, without the serious side effects of drugs of abuse. The physiological effects of methylxanthines have been known for a long time and they are mainly mediated by the so-called adenosine receptors. Caffeine and theobromine are the most abundant methylxanthines in cacao and their physiological effects are notable. Their health-promoting benefits are so remarkable that chocolate is explored as a functional food. The consequences of adenosine receptor blockade by natural compounds present in cacao/chocolate are here reviewed. Palatability and health benefits of methylxanthines, in general, and theobromine, in particular, have further contributed to sustain one of the most innocuous and pleasant habits: chocolate consumption.
Keywords: adenosine; adenosine receptors; adenosine receptor antagonist; caffeine; theobromine adenosine; adenosine receptors; adenosine receptor antagonist; caffeine; theobromine
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Franco, R.; Oñatibia-Astibia, A.; Martínez-Pinilla, E. Health Benefits of Methylxanthines in Cacao and Chocolate. Nutrients 2013, 5, 4159-4173.

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