Fact or Fiction: Does Chocolate Cause Acne?

Assorted Chocolates

Chocolate is a delicious treat that has been given a bad reputation for over a hundred years when it comes to its effects on skin. Adults preach to teenagers that their chocolate consumption will fuel their acne breakouts. Is this assumption just an old wives’ tales, or does is there any evidence behind the warning. Passed on for generations, our grandmothers might be unknowingly lying to us.

Too much of any dessert is never a good thing. In excess, sugary snacks can lead to health problems, and eating an excessive amount of foods with high contents of sugar and fat can lead to an increase in acne breakouts; however, chocolate by itself might not fuel skin flare-ups.  According to the  Huffington Post, Dr. Ava Shamban, a Los Angeles dermatologist, says, “Chocolate per se will not make you break out. In fact, there is little evidence that chocolate or any specific fatty goods will cause acne.” She explains that consuming a high amount of sugar and fat can escalate the body’s sebum production (a substance that keeps our hair and skin moisturized) which, when increased, will “promote inflammatory responses in the body—which can lead to acne,” Shamban explains. Sebum production is also increased around the time teenagers reaches puberty, which is the main reason behind teenagers’ acne breakouts.  Eating too many sweets and fatty foods are not good for your skin, but indulging in chocolate once in a while is not the lone cause of acne.

Woman with Acne

Duke University’s website Duke Health points out there has only been “one controlled medical study” on the effects of chocolate on our skin. The study took place in 1969 and resulted in finding “no relationship between chocolate and acne. However, it wasn’t conclusive enough to close the book on the matter.” The website explains that it is hard to conduct studies done on food’s effect on skin because it is difficult to control what people consume daily. Eating chocolate in moderation seems to have no reaction on our skin. Enjoying dark chocolate, in a recommended amount of only three ounces a day, may even have positive influences on your health. Loaded with antioxidants, such as flavonoids (a photochemical that is found in plants), dark chocolate may even be beneficial for your skin, according to the website Reader’s digest. The flavonoids that are found in “dark chocolate absorb UV light, help protect and increase blood flow to the skin, and improve skin’s hydration and complexion,” Reader’s digest explains.

Verdict: False. Chocolate alone does not directly give us acne. Whew! Dr. Shamban explains that one of the reasons why this myth evolved is because “women like to indulge in sweets, particularly chocolate, during the premenstrual part of their cycle […] acne-prone women may notice breakouts coincide with this time in their cycle […] therefore it may be your menstrual cycle itself, not the chocolate you crave during it, that makes you break out.” It is important, especially during the time of a women’s period, to keep a healthy diet to decrease acne breakouts and, mostly importantly, to stay healthy!

Chocolate lovers, rejoice!

Photos via Thinkstock


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