Clearing Up The Chocolate-Acne Myth

Written by Amy Sumner

Does chocolate cause acne?

It's a question generations of teenagers and adults have asked when faced with an outburst of angry, red spots. Many would assert that chocolate is the culprit, while others maintain that food can't be linked to the appearance of your skin. Let's clear a few things up.

Food does indeed influence the health of the skin, as has been proven repeatedly in countless scientific studies. Every part of the skin is, like the rest of the body, made from the nutrients you eat and since all the systems of the body are linked, your systemic health can certainly affect your skin. Poor gut health can produce breakouts, zinc deficiency leads to scarring, vitamin C deficiency can cause easy bruising, the list goes on.

Having acne at a young age, I learned that chemical-laden cleansers didn't hold the solution to pure skin and with an aversion to drugs, I knew that nature had more answers for me. Key dietary changes healed my skin in a way that nothing else could. My devotion to natural health developed alongside an almost equally strong devotion to chocolate, without compromising my health or the clarity of my skin.

The catch? You have to get the good stuff.

Theobroma cacao, commonly known as cacao or cocoa, has myriad health benefits when consumed in its raw state. Raw cacao is packed with vitamins A, C and E (essential skin nutrients), chromium (to balance blood glucose levels), healthy fats (to balance oil production) and zinc (for skin repair). Consider that cacao also contains magnesium and tryptophan to reduce stress and many antioxidant, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and it's starting to sound like a recipe for perfect skin.

So how did my beloved chocolate become the scapegoat for inflamed, oily pimples?

It seems that the chocolate-acne connection originated from poorly conducted studies over forty years ago. The idea has perpetuated ever since despite a complete lack of modern scientific evidence supporting the link.

For most Westerners, the word "chocolate" conjures images of the processed stuff lining the confectionary aisle of a supermarket rather than the sacred Amazonian "food of the Gods" revered by the Mayans and Aztecs for eons. The processed chocolate we are so used to today has been heated, chemically altering the fats and destroying vitamin C. It also typically contains milk, sugar, emulsifiers and flavoring, all of which are inflammatory. This type of chocolate certainly doesn't hold the golden ticket to glowing skin!

The two big foods which we know do cause acne are dairy and sugar, both of which alter hormonal levels and blood sugar balance. This effect can cause acne by increasing the turnover of skin cells, encouraging excessive oil production and preventing the skin cells from separating completely. This leads to oily skin and plugged pores, resulting in inflammation and pimples. It's no wonder chocolate gets a bad rap.

In short, minimize your intake of sugars, refined foods and dairy if you want gorgeous skin. But that doesn't mean you need to give up your precious chocolate.

While milk chocolate will rob your skin of beauty, treat yourself to only the best raw, dairy-free chocolate. It'll actually boost the health of your skin and entire body. While you're at it, smooth some real cacao butter onto your body for topical nourishment and you'll have velvety soft skin good enough to eat.

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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