Can Food Cause Acne?

By Sophie Schulte-Hillen for Yes! Turns out the burger and zit connection isn’t a myth after all.

Posted on | By Sophie Schulte-Hillen


Further evidence that life isn’t fair: A new study found a preliminary link between chocolate and acne. Ten men aged 18-35 with mild acne were told to snack on 12 ounces of unsweetened, 100% cacao chocolate at once, then eat normally for the next week. On day four, the average number of acne lesions had shot up from 2.7 to 13.4. On day seven, it was 18.2.

Researchers also found that the more chocolate each subject ate, the more pimples he developed. But don’t quit that dark chocolate habit just yet. Dr. William Danby, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Dartmouth, points out the study only suggests that chocolate inflames existing acne instead of causing it. And a previous study, where patients ate milk-free chocolate bars – not pure cacao – showed no connection at all. So if you don’t currently have acne, keep munching on 72% dark chocolate – it lowers blood pressure.

Can Food Cure Acne?

Omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon and fish oil supplements), antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E, as well as flavonoids found in red wine, colorful fruits and vegetables, and green tea, all may have an anti-inflammatory effect on skin. Selenium and zinc may also be beneficial, as could a high-fiber diet, though all three require further study.

Dr. Danby recommends acne patients follow a dairy-free and low-glycemic diet for at least six months and has found that giving up dairy alone can be enough to cure acne, if that’s your trigger.

Also, follow your instincts. If you suspect a specific food causes breakouts (be it milk, sweets or processed snacks), eliminate it for four weeks and see if your skin improves, suggests Schlessinger. In the end, as Dr. Fusco points out, it’s not rocket science: “What’s good for the body is good for the skin.”

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Article written by Sophie Schulte-Hillen
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