Indulging in a piece of chocolate here and there won't cause acne, but a diet that's high in sugar and low in vital nutrients could trigger a number of skin problems.
Good news for chocolate lovers: there's no evidence that chocolate causes acne. So rest easy, knowing that your favourite sweet treat is a perfectly reasonable indulgence and not a recipe for problem skin.
Does Chocolate Cause Acne?
For generations, well-meaning parents have told their teenagers to cut back on sugary and greasy foods. At first blush, the idea makes sense. After all, foods that aren't great for your body and waistline should be bad for your skin too.
However, no credible studies so far have confirmed a link between chocolate consumption and acne. That means you no longer have to feel guilty about a few sweet treats.
The Connection Between Inflammation and Skin Problems
Think you now have licence to devour as many chocolate cakes as you can fit in your pantry? Think again. Chocolate may not directly cause skin problems, but in some people, sugar may be a contributing factor.
In some people, foods with a high glycemic index elevate blood glucose for extended periods, because such foods tend to contain more sugar. You're particularly vulnerable if you have diabetes or prediabetes. Over time, high blood glucose can cause chronic inflammation that undermines your overall health, including the health of your skin.
The good news is that chocolate has only a moderately high glycemic index. Foods high in carbohydrates, particularly some breads, have a much higher glycemic index. So chocolate is fine in small quantities. If you regularly gorge yourself on chocolate and carbs, though, you could be setting your skin up for disaster.
If you're concerned that chocolate may elevate your blood glucose, talk to your doctor about your diabetes risk factors. A simple blood sugar test can reveal how well—and how quickly—your body metabolises glucose, providing vital insights into your risk for chocolate-related skin inflammation.
Dark Chocolate: A Virtual Health Panacea
In the midst of all the concern about the role of milk chocolate—the kind you most often find in candy bars, cakes, and other sweets—in acne, chocolate-lovers can bask in the glory of a simple scientific fact: not all chocolate is bad for you.
Dark chocolate, the slightly bitter cousin of milk chocolate, offers myriad health benefits and is lower in sugar than milk chocolate. If you're concerned about how your chocolate habit might affect your health, consider retraining your taste buds. The benefits of dark chocolate include:
- Antioxidant protection: Antioxidants combat free radicals, which can damage your skin, organs, and brain.
- Reduced risk of diabetes: Many chemicals in dark chocolate may combat blood glucose, reducing your risk of developing diabetes.
- Better heart health: One study linked dark chocolate to a 37% reduction in the risk of heart attack and a 29% reduction in the risk of stroke.
- Reduced inflammation: Research suggests that dark chocolate can reduce inflammation over time, alleviating a range of symptoms.
- Reduced risk of cancer: Chocolate contains a number of chemicals that may help prevent cancer.
As with all things in life, the key to healthy consumption of chocolate is moderation. Talk to your doctor about how your diet affects your health. If you get the go-ahead, enjoy that candy bar or ice cream you've grown to love without feeling guilty.