Can chocolate be a super food? It seems too good to be true! But there have been countless studies investigating the health benefits of dark chocolate and cocoa…

In the latest series of Jamie’s Super Food  Jamie visited Switzerland – the biggest chocolate-eating nation in the world. Swiss men live longer than anywhere else on the planet, while Swiss women’s life expectancy is sixth in the world. So does this mean that the dark stuff can play a part in a healthy, balanced diet?

WHICH TYPE IS HEALTHY?

Ultimately, it’s all about the type you choose, and how often you eat it. The health benefits are linked to its cocoa content – so always go for a quality bar with 70% or higher cocoa levels.

Cocoa contains flavonoids, which are thought to play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease. The darker the chocolate, the more flavonoids it contains. Even better, if you cook with quality cocoa powder, you can get all the health benefits of cocoa without any of the added fat or sugar in a bar (remember that low-cocoa milk and white chocolate contain much higher levels of sugar and saturated fat).

One study carried out on middle-aged and elderly Swedish women found that moderate, habitual chocolate eating was associated with a lower rate of heart failure. The biggest benefits were seen in women who ate one or two pieces per week. So, it seems that there can be a place for moderate amounts of it in a healthy, balanced diet!

9 STUNNING CHOCOLATE RECIPES

Here’s a selection of family-friendly recipes that make the most of those rich cocoa and dark flavours.

For more tasty and nutritious meals for the family, head to Jamie’s Family Food hub.