Do you really have to cut chocolate if you have acne? The answer may not be so simple.
Many of us love to eat chocolate and the numbers speak for themselves. In the United Kingdom, we eat an average of 11 kg of chocolate per person per year or about 3 bars of chocolate per week and 660,900 tonnes of it per year!
Sugar, spice and everything that is not nice?
The answer is more complicated than it seems.
You may have heard that chocolate causes acne, or that chocolate worsens acne and that you should cut chocolate out of your diet. But do the scientific studies really reflect that? We investigate the current scientific research for you.
Is it sugar?
A study published in 2017 found that college students who only consumed one Hersey's milk chocolate bar had more lesions than those who consumed only 15 Jelly Belly jelly beans. Considering that both groups consumed exactly the same glycaemic load amount (how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) level), it was probably not sugar that affected acne in this case.
Is it milk?
Milk may contain hormones that interfere with our natural hormones.
Many people point out that the milk content in milk chocolate could be the culprit instead. This could be because milk may contain hormones that interfere with our natural hormones. Yet, there are also studies that show that skim milk may be worse for acne than full-fat versions.
So can I consume dark chocolate instead?
Dark chocolate has long been held as a healthier alternative, with little to no milk and sugar. However, a Thai study published in 2016 states that dark chocolate exacerbates acne. It is to be noted that this study was only conducted among males (since women are often excluded from such studies because of hormonal fluctuations associated with the cycle), and only conducted with a small sample size of 25 men who are already acne-prone.
What can I do about my chocolate obsession?
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to consuming dairy products or chocolates. Even scientists are on both sides of the fence when it comes to whether chocolate causes acne! Until they find an answer, you should listen to your body and observe how your skin reacts to certain foods. There is no point in denying yourself your favourite foods until you are certain that it causes your skin to flare up.
There is only one rule: if certain foods worsen your acne, stop having it!
Or you can look into improving your gut flora (good bacteria) with probiotics, which may help you digest food better.