Think Twice: Prevent Acne by Avoiding Chocolate or Greasy Foods
Good news for potato chip connoisseurs: Junk food can be blamed for many health woes, but acne isn’t one of them. Studies show that there is no connection between chocolate or greasy foods and acne. If you feel like pimples appear every time you eat a bucket of fried chicken, you’re probably not hallucinating. Rather than point your finger at the greasy food, however, blame the hormonal changes that have a major impact on your complexion.
The relationship between acne and diet is not as well understood. While researchers continue to study the connection, the few studies showing a possible link have been poorly designed. You can still eat these foods—in moderation. However, the best cause of fighting acne and boosting overall good health is by eating a well balanced diet and exercising—again in moderation. Although there is no scientific evidence linking chocolate, potato chips, pizza or other greasy foods to acne, it never hurts to limit these types of foods as part of a healthy diet.
As any high school yearbook will confirm, acne is the most common skin condition. Pimples form when hair follicles under the skin become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Follicles are connected to sebaceous glands, which secrete an oily substance known as sebum to lubricate hair and skin. If your body produces too much sebum and dead skin cells, the combination forms soft plugs that clog pores and cause the inflammation known as acne. Acne can take several forms, including whiteheads, blackheads and inflamed or infected bumps with white pus known as pustules.
Anyone can have breakouts, but they are especially common among teens because of hormone changes. Acne is not a serious condition, but it can result in physical scarring. Severe acne can cause emotional turmoil as well, including stress, embarrassment, depression and poor self-confidence.
It may seem like acne gets worse when we eat chocolate or greasy foods like potato chips and pizza. That’s because we tend to eat a lot more junk food when we’re stressed. Psychological stress can cause a surge of hormones that may increase inflammation and contribute to breakouts.
Numerous studies have found no link between chocolate or greasy foods and acne. However, some research suggests other foods may be culprits. While one study showed a possible link between drinking milk and acne, the study relied on people to remember what they ate years previously, making the results only as reliable as their memory. Another study showed that a low-glycemic diet—low in sugar and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains—might reduce acne. However, the study was small (43 people) and researchers could not say whether other results, including weight loss, may have caused the skin improvement. Experts say more research is needed.
Bottom Line: There is no scientific evidence that acne is caused or worsened by chocolate or greasy foods. But that’s not a free pass for junk-food junkies. Limiting these foods in your diet is still a smart choice for your overall health. To avoid breakouts, use a gentle daily cleanser and keep your stress levels in check.