Chocolate is just as good for you as fruit juice, researchers have found.

Sweet tooths all over will be pleased to know that, gram-for-gram, chocolate contains more healthy plant compounds than many fruit juices.

In research commissioned by a sweet manufacturer, scientists found that both dark chocolate and cocoa contained more cancer-busting antioxidants and flavanols.

Antioxidants, which include flavanols, neutralise destructive molecules called free radicals and are believe to combat heart disease and cancer.

Superfoods are usually classed as those high in antioxidants – compounds, which prevent oxidisation and can stop healthy cells from being damaged.

Researchers made comparisons between single servings of dark chocolate, cocoa, hot chocolate mix, and fruit juices including acai berries, cranberries and pomegranates.

The study was conducted by scientists at the Hershey Centre for Health & Nutrition, but was peer reviewed and published in the Chemistry Central Journal.

Dr Debra Millar, the lead author, said that the results showed that chocolate should be labelled a “superfruit”.

“Cacao seeds should be considered a ‘super fruit’ and products derived from cacao seed extracts, such as natural cocoa powder and dark chocolate, as ‘super foods’,” she said.

However heating chocolate destroyed any health giving properties, they discovered.

Registered nutritionist and TV consultant Dr Carina Norris supported some of the Hershey claims but warned the idea of chocolate being healthier than fruit was too good to be true.

“Cocoa could indeed be considered as a health food but you can’t really say chocolate could, because it also contains lots of negative things like fat and sugar. If you like chocolate but want to have some health benefits, go for the highest cocoa content you can.”