New dark chocolate treats boost your mood, health and even your libido!

It's not in your head—studies prove that chocolate really does make you feel happier. That's because it increases your body's levels of mood-effecting chemicals, including serotonin and dopamine, as well as spurring a rise in phenylethylamine, which your body normally releases when you fall in love.

Of course, chocolate often contains lots of sugar and fat, with can put a damper on your mood once you hit the scale after all that medicinal munching.

Luckily, you can still have your mood-enhancing chocolate and eat it, too. Simply switch to dark! There's less sugar, which helps reduce calories as well as avoid the steep sugar crash that comes with eating lots of the white stuff. Plus, as you've probably already heard, the darker the chocolate, the more disease-fighting antioxidants it contains, making it downright healthy!

Health-savvy candy makers have recently caught on to the many benefits of dark chocolate and introduced extra dark versions of their chocolate treats including Hershey's Extra Dark, Hershey's Cacao Reserve, Ghirardelli Intense Dark Gourmet Chocolate Bars, Nestle Raisinets Dark and M&M’s Dark Chocolate Candies.

But some other candy makers have gone one step further, providing even more benefits—from heart-healthy nutrients to libido-enhancing aphrodisiacs. Read on to learn all about these newest dark chocolate  innovations:

Dark chocolate-covered pumpkin seeds

Boasting less sugar than a piece of  fruit and less sodium and carbs than a nutrition bar, this sweet treat comes with a healthful dose of iron, magnesium, zinc, protein and fiber from the roasted pumpkin seeds it contains.

Treat yourself: Pumpkin Seed Crunch, $6.95 for 5 ounces, Bissingers.com, (800) 325-8881

Dark chocolate with a heart-healthy twist

From the makers of the Dove bar comes dark chocolate infused with natural plant sterols, which have been shown to help lower cholesterol by up to 8% and promote healthy circulation. Choose from chocolate bars, chocolate bars with blueberries or almonds, chocolate covered almonds and crispy chocolate snack bars with rice, oat and soy crisps.

Treat yourself: CocoaVia, $4.99 per four-pack, Drugstore.com or Walgreens.com

Dark chocolate-covered orgasm

Chocollissmima is touted as the first dark chocolate bar to boost your libido as well as your mood! How's it work its sexy magic? The makers include a dash of Borojoa, an Amazonian fruit that increases energy and is said to act as an aphrodisiac.

Treat yourself: Chocollissima, $34.95 for 24 bars 12 grams each, Phytobase.com, (801) 705.0555 (On back order. Add your name to the waiting list today to get first dibs!)

Dark chocolate with a light touch 

If you don't have much of a sweet tooth but you don't want to miss out on the mood-boosting, healthful benefits of chocolate, Bubble Wrap has the answer. They've mixed dark chocolate with thousands of bubbles to create an airy chocolate treat that's lighter and more subtle than its richer chocolate bar competitors.

Treat yourself: Bubble Wrap Bubbly Dark Chocolate, $7.49 for 3 bars, BubbleChocolate.biz

Did you know?

Dark chocolate gives your skin a more youthful glow by plumping it, improving moisture and reducing redness, according to a recent study from Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Even better? The polyphenols in dark chocolate also help prevent further aging by reducing your skin’s sensitivity to UV rays!


Attend the festival!

October 14: Wild Wonderful Chocolate Festival, Oakhurst, California. Go for the chocolate, baking contest, coloring contest, Mountain Dessert competition and kazoo band. WildWonderful


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