Does Chocolate Cause Pimples?

We all remember growing up being told that eating chocolate will cause pimples (or make them worse). We wanted to share some facts on the story so you can make the informed decision to eat that extra Egg or Kit Kat!

Dermatologist Dr Ava Shamban recently spoke with Beauty Myths to clear up this subject.

"Chocolate per se will not make you break out," says Dr. Shamban. "In fact, there is little evidence that chocolate or any specific fatty foods will cause acne, but we do know that a high-sugar/high-fat diet can increase sebum production and promote inflammatory responses in the body, which can lead to acne. Again, although we can’t say that sugary and fatty food directly causes acne, it’s nevertheless true that overindulging in these kinds of food can increase your chances of developing the condition and may displace other nutrients that are critical to the skin’s health. (i.e. filling up on sugary foods may lead to less consumption of fruits and vegetables)."

So if thats the case - then is the type of Chocolate make a difference? (dark, milk, white?)

"Milk and white chocolate overall have more dairy, sugar and other additives than dark chocolate," explains Dr. Shamban. "For some people, dairy and sugary substances can trigger hormonal changes, which in turn may cause inflammation, especially for acne-prone people. It is also well-documented that dark chocolate has many benefits to our health, not just for our cardiovascular system but for our skin as well. The high cocoa content of dark chocolate also means high amounts of two flavonoids, catechin and procyanidin, which are chemicals that act as antioxidants within the body. Antioxidants protect the body's cells against free radicals. Dark chocolate also contains higher concentrations of antioxidant flavonoids than milk chocolate and white chocolate."

So Why is Chocolate given such a bad reputation?

"There are many reasons why people give chocolate a bad rap," says Dr. Shamban. "One reason is that some women like to indulge in sweets, particularly chocolate, during the premenstrual part of their cycle (PMS). Acne-prone women may notice breakouts coincide with this time in their cycle. Estrogen levels drop, triggering androgens (hormones produced by the ovaries) to stimulate the sebaceous glands; this pumps up oil production. Therefore it may be your menstrual cycle itself, not the chocolate you crave during it, which causes you to break out. In addition, when people fill up on chocolate and other high-caloric and fatty foods, they leave little room to eat a balanced and well rounded diet, which is needed for healthy skin. So it can be the lack of needed nutrients, rather than the chocolate itself, which supports the proliferation of acne."

If Chocolate isn't the answer - Is there other foods we should be careful of?

"I think we need to be careful labeling any food on its own as ‘breakout-causing,’ due to the reasons I’ve cited above," notes Dr. Shamban. "However, if a reaction does occur, it really depends on the individual and other factors including: overall diet, their genetic predisposition to acne and other health factors. Try to limit or avoid the following ingredients that are considered pro-inflammatory: hydrogenated oils, corn syrup, enriched white flour and sweeteners of any kind."

If it's Easter Eggs or just that block of Dairy Milk you've been eyeing off - you now know it's not those pesky pimples that should stop you!