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Does Chocolate Cause Acne? Skincare Myths Busted!


We’ve all heard somebody say that chocolate causes acne. But will indulging in your favorite sweet treat really lead to pimples? We look at the science and deliver the real answers!

Does chocolate cause acne?

woman eating chocolate

No! It’s that simple! Scientists have been studying the effects of chocolate on our skin since the 1960s, and there is no definite link between eating chocolate and suffering a breakout. Some small studies have suggested a link, but many could be explained by other additives in candy bars, such as milk, sugar, and nuts.

There is a link between high glycemic index (GI) diets and acne. These diets contain lots of refined carbs and sugars. It is also known as a western diet. People who eat a low GI diet, with lots of lean meats, fish, fruit, and whole grains, tend not to suffer from acne — or at least not to the same extent.

How diet affects acne

chicken nuggets and ketchup

That doesn’t mean that these foods directly cause adult acne. It’s not as simple as greasy food = greasy skin. But when we metabolize these foods and break them down into energy, they produce nasty side effects. One of these is Reactive Oxygen Species, or ROS. ROS are unstable molecules that have unpaired electrons. They will “steal” electrons from other places in our bodies. One of the most common places is from our DNA.

Our bodies try to fight this damage, but if it starts to get out of control it leads to oxidative stress. That’s when there’s too much damage for our bodies to fight effectively. This leads to ongoing, low-level inflammation across our bodies. And when our immune systems are busy fighting all that inflammation, other bacteria and infections can take hold.

Bacteria that causes acne

woman examines acne in mirror

One such bacteria is P. acnes. This is a bacteria that lives on almost everyone’s skin. For the most part, it doesn’t cause us any problems. However if it starts to multiply without being stopped, it causes acne.

What that means is a high GI diet full of refined or heavily processed carbs and sugars can inadvertently lead to acne by causing oxidative stress and inflammation which lets P. acnes get out of control. It’s a chain reaction. One candy bar won’t hurt, but if you eat lots of chocolate and other unhealthy foods, it will start to show on your face.

How to control acne through diet

salad bowl healthy food

There are ways to reduce the appearance of pimples through your diet. Eating whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean meats reduces oxidative stress. Try to avoid eating too much fast food, red meat, or candy. Aim to make these foods an occasional treat, not the staples in your diet.

Diet isn’t the only cause of acne, but a poor diet can contribute to breakouts. By living a healthy lifestyle and eating the right foods, you can help reduce the appearance of acne!

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