Can Chocolate Actually Cause Acne Breakouts?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Does Chocolate Cause Acne?

Chocolate has been associated with acne for ages now. This led many researchers to conduct studies in order to find out the truth.

What Does The Research Suggest?

Chocolate has been scrutinized as the active cause of acne since 1969. The earliest studies have been eliminated from the debate, as they were conducted on chocolate bars and candies filled with sugar and other ingredients. While a number of studies concluded chocolate to be a major reason behind acne, some researchers dismissed the chocolate-acne link.

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Here are some of their findings:

Studies Supporting Chocolate-Acne Connection

Studies Refuting Chocolate-Acne Connection

An epidemiological (study of distribution and patterns) research [1] suggests that chocolate stimulates the human blood's mononuclear cells, making them react aggressively, whenever they come in contact with acne bacteria like propionibacterium.

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An Australian study [4] conducted in 2003 emphasized the role of insulin in an acne breakout. The finding concludes that chocolate consumption may affect the insulin level in your body and insulin works as a possible contributing factor for acne. Therefore, there is no direct connection between acne and cocoa.

A double-blind study [2] was conducted on 14 acne-prone men between the age of 18 to 35. The result concluded that unsweetened cocoa consumption is correlated with acne.

A research [5] was done on the effect of insulin resistance on acne vulgaris, which is a common skin condition among teenagers. The findings establish that insulin resistance plays a role in the development of acne vulgaris..

A study [3] conducted in 2017 stated that a bunch of acne-prone college students faced the worst phase of acne after chocolate consumption.

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A case control study [6] asked two groups of young adults to keep a food diary and follow a high glycemic diet. The first group of adults had acne vulgaris and the second group had no such issues. They consumed milk and ice cream for a certain period, which proved a clear association of their food intake with acne. But the study did not find any link between acne and chocolate.

Why Do You Get Pimples After Eating Chocolate Bars?

Chocolate bars or candies have more to offer other than chocolate. Mainly, they contain high amounts of sugar, which is proven to be an acne-causing ingredient. Few candies and bars have more sugar than cocoa, which could be the main cause of your acne.

Data suggests that a high glycemic diet, which means food enriched with carbohydrates and sugar, exacerbate acne breakouts. They include carbonated drinks, sweet breads, and some forms of chocolate. Insulin resistance (excessive glucose in your blood) influences the sebum production in your skin, which clogs your skin pores and leads to acne.

The presence of milk powder in a chocolate can also lead to acne in some people, if they have a history of skin issues due to dairy products.

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Now that you know what excessive sugar consumption does to your skin, it is quite clear that the sugar in your chocolate bars is the main reason for pimples.

Which Chocolate Is Good For Your Skin?

Cocoa is a great source of manganese, which aids your nutrient absorption ability and also boosts your sex hormone production.

Dark chocolate is known to have plenty of beauty benefits. It offers skin moisturizing properties and protection from harmful UV rays.

Dark chocolate is also an antioxidant and thus, has a good reputation of reducing wrinkles. It prevents your skin’s collagen from breaking down, making you appear glowy and youthful.

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The list does not end here. Dark chocolate offers necessary vitamins like vitamin A, B1, C, D and E. It is also rich in iron and calcium. Another added advantage of dark chocolate is the reduction of your stress hormones. As they say, chocolate can lift your mood instantly.

So, if you can look for at least a 50% dark chocolate or above, with low sugar content, it can be beneficial for your skin.

Which Chocolate Do You Need To Avoid For Better Skin?

Since a majority of the studies suggest that sugar is a contributing factor for acne, it is better to avoid chocolates and bars that have extreme levels of sugar. But, only avoiding chocolates won’t change your acne-prone skin overnight. Your overall diet matters a lot.

A study has shown that people who follow a western diet or high glycemic diet face more acne issues. These include fast food like burgers, fried and baked foods, as well as highly processed beverages and eatables.

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Another research was performed between two groups of people. Both the groups had low glycemic food, which included food like fish and fruits. Not a single person from the groups had acne issues. Therefore, your diet has a correlation with acne breakouts.

Foods That Can Cause Acne:

  • Fast food
  • Fried food
  • Food rich in carbohydrates
  • Dairy products
  • Food rich in omega 6 fat [7]
  • Refined grains
  • Sugar

Wrapping Up

Not all food is to be blamed for your acne. Your hormones also play an important role in your acne breakout. That's why women experience acne during puberty and almost every month at the time of their period.

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In some cases, acne can be genetic too. As far as chocolate is concerned, there are several surveys conducted, which give contradictory answers. As several studies link acne with high sugar consumption and dairy, consumption of dark chocolate may be safer. This is because dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and has several skin benefits.

Experts suggest that knowing your skin may help you understand what is causing your acne breakout. If any specific food is making your skin acne-prone or worsening the situation, then avoid eating it. For severe and chronic cases, seeking medical advice is always the best option.

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