Does Chocolate Cause Acne? Skin Experts Share the Truth


Calling all chocoholics …

Research published in the JAMA Dermatology Journal earlier this year points towards some disappointing news for all #Chocoholics out there. While the tasty treat satisfies a mean sweet tooth, consumption of chocolate and other fatty dairy foods may be causing acne and inflammation in your skin.

As part of ongoing research from a 2009 diet analysis, dermatologists studied 25,000 French adults, who tracked and recorded their food intake over 3 separate windows in May 2018, and once more 6 months later. The study found that the adults who had severe acne were those who were consuming chocolate, dairy and other fatty, processed snacks. This was compared to subjects who were consuming higher quantities of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and dark chocolate, which contains significantly less dairy than its counter.

The dermatologists involved in the study had initially removed other probabilities involved in the findings, including sex, age, smoking habits, physical activity, and other factors such as physical and emotional diseases, in order to gain an accurate result from the 11-year study. What they found to be true is the sobering fact that our favorite indulgences are highly associated with acne flare-ups.

The exact reasoning and science are yet to be known. However, the dermatologists involved in the study speculate that a high-glycemic-index diet (high in simple carbohydrates and processed sugars) is a likely culprit. This may be due to the fact that high GI diets cause major spikes in blood sugar, interfere with normal hormone function, and create inflammation in the body, AKA, the red bumps we so lovingly call acne.

Author and Board-Certified Dermatologist, Rajani Katta states, “Our current thinking on the role of diet and acne has really undergone a significant shift in the last decade and a half. Before that time, if a patient asked about the link between food and acne, most dermatologists would have advised them that it wasn’t an important factor.” And with heaps of acne-fighting products in today’s market, consumers are inspired to find the root of the issue, which almost always ties back to a dietary or lifestyle stressor.

Cutting Back on Acne-Causing Foods.

While we know the majority of acne flares are credited to genetic, hormonal and stress factors, certain dietary choices and eating patterns definitely play a part in having clear skin. Katta suggests acne-sufferers become their own investigators by cutting back on all refined sugars in processed carbohydrates and sugary sweets for 2-3 months.

All significant dietary changes should be addressed with a medical professional and initiated slowly to avoid detox symptoms, and to improve your chances of making sure your new habit sticks. Baby steps are always the best practice when it comes to making lasting changes that won’t cause you misery in the process. For example, making a simple switch from granulated sugar to Stevia in your coffee, or a couple of blocks of a cacao chocolate bar in place of a caramel-stuffed candy bar, create the building blocks for better habits.

Katta also notes a wise word to all fitness-fiends, warning that those who supplement with whey protein are likely to suffer from acne breakouts as well, given whey encourages the production of a peptide in the gut that stimulates the production of the hormone insulin, which in turn affects the skin’s production of sebum — a major player in acne and clogged pores.


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