Theobromine and gout is #87 in the Gout and You series, the top gout topics based on searches by GoutPal visitors.
Theobromine is interesting because it comes top of the foods high in uric acid list. However, this is more an anomaly about how purines are measured, rather than the ability of theobromine foods to create uric acid.
The most significant fact is: theobromine is not a food. Try ordering theobromine cake! However, if you order chocolate cake, chances are you will be getting a good helping of theobromine contained within in. As you can see from the list of theobromine foods below, chocolate and cocoa are the main sources, with tea bringing up the rear.
So, if theobromine is not a food, what is it? It belongs to a class of organic compounds called methylxanthines. These are very closely related to purines, and to xanthine oxidase (XO). XO is the enzyme that causes purines to breakdown to uric acid. Because all these substances are very closely related, measurement of total purines gets distorted. We have seen that total purines are not relevant, because vegetable purines do not readily convert to uric acid. That is why my purine rich foods table is much more relevant to gout sufferers. So, theobromine, as a vegetable purine, should not readily convert to uric acid.
Indeed, it does not, but there is a much more interesting fact about theobromine and uric acid.
For many years, we have been aware that coffee drinking is associated with less risk of gout. There are several studies, and you can find more information by searching for coffee and gout. One such study, Coffee consumption and risk of incident gout in women: the Nurses’ Health Study has particularly interesting facts hidden in it’s extensive analysis.
Though that report’s focus is clearly on coffee, hidden away is the analysis of chocolate consumption and gout. The detailed results note that the risk of getting gout for chocolate eaters is 87% of that for people who do not eat chocolate. The authors note:
theobromine, the predominant methylxanthine of chocolate, may explain its observed protective trend with chocolate intake.
They refer to research by Kela and colleagues. In Inhibitory effects of methylxanthines on the activity of xanthine oxidase, the investigation concludes that theobromine inhibited xanthine oxidase leading to reduced uric acid, albeit in rats. Clearly there is a need to investigate administration of chocolate to gouty humans in controlled experiments. This would give valuable knowledge about different levels of theobromine intake and uric acid. Currently, the uric acid reduction achieved in rats, and the statistical association between gout and chocolate are highly suggestive that theobromine is good for gout. We just need to quantify that association. In the meantime, here is a list of the theobromine content of all key foods in the USDA database.
Key Food Sources Of Theobromine
Please note that these values are for standard serving sizes listed in the USDA nutrition database. This gives a fair representation of the most relevant sources of theobromine. This makes it more difficult to compare different foods. However, if you want the list in standard weights, or standard energy values, please ask in the gout forum.
|Long Description|| Theobromine
|Baking chocolate, unsweetened, squares||1712||132||1 cup, grated|
|Candies, semisweet chocolate||885||182||1 cup, large chips|
|Chocolate syrup||570||300||1 cup|
|Milk, chocolate, fluid, commercial, lowfat, with added vitamin A and vitamin D||230||1000||1 quart|
|Cocoa, dry powder, unsweetened, processed with alkali||142||5.4||1 tbsp|
|Cake, snack cakes, creme-filled, chocolate with frosting||108||50||1 cupcake|
|Candies, milk chocolate||90||44||1 bar, (1.55 oz)|
|Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, M&M’s Milk Chocolate Candies||60||42||1 box, (1.48 oz)|
|Cookies, chocolate sandwich, with creme filling, regular||52||28.35||1 oz|
|Formulated bar, ZONE PERFECT CLASSIC CRUNCH BAR, mixed flavors||50||50||1 bar|
|Ice creams, chocolate||41||66||.5 cup, (4 fl oz)|
|Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, TWIX Caramel Cookie Bars||41||58||1 package, (2.06 oz, 2 bars)|
|Cookies, chocolate chip, commercially prepared, regular, higher fat, enriched||24||28.35||1 oz|
|Cereals ready-to-eat, POST, COCOA PEBBLES||22||29||.75 cup, (1 NLEA serving)|
|Candies, sweet chocolate coated fondant||20||11||1 patty, small|
|Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, M&M’s Peanut Chocolate Candies||19||18||1 package, fun size|
|Cream substitute, flavored, liquid||15||15||1 tbsp|
|Cereals ready-to-eat, GENERAL MILLS, COCOA PUFFS||14||27||.75 cup, (1 NLEA serving)|
|Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, SNICKERS Bar||13||15||1 bar, fun size|
|Cereals ready-to-eat, KELLOGG, KELLOGG’S COCOA KRISPIES||13||31||.75 cup, (1 NLEA serving)|
|Cereals ready-to-eat, GENERAL MILLS, COOKIE CRISP||9||26||.75 cup, (1 NLEA serving)|
|Cereals ready-to-eat, GENERAL MILLS, REESE’S PUFFS||8||29||.75 cup, (1 NLEA serving)|
|Milk, chocolate, fluid, commercial, whole, with added vitamin A and vitamin D||7||31.2||1 fl oz|
|Milk, chocolate, fluid, commercial, reduced fat, with added vitamin A and vitamin D||7||31.2||1 fl oz|
|Tea, instant, unsweetened, lemon-flavored, powder||5||11.3||2 tbsp, rounded|
|Tea, brewed, prepared with tap water||4||178||6 fl oz|
Remember that chocolate is often a source of excess calories, which are very bad for gout, so be careful when you are choosing sources of theobromine. If you have experienced chocolate, or theobromine foods, as one of your good gout diet foods to eat, please share in the gout support forum.
I will continue this series of gout topics with #86, tomorrow. Please subscribe to my gout information update service if you don’t want to miss it.