Chocolate - whether you like it fresh from the wrapper or disguised in muffins or mousse - has an undeservedly bad reputation as a cause of acne. However the evidence still appears mixed when deciding if it really is bad for our skin.
All About Acne co-chair Dr JoAnn See said there is growing evidence of some links between diet and acne but surprisingly, chocolate isn’t high on the naughty list yet.
“Diet is probably the most controversial area when it comes to acne, with the most consistent evidence relating to the glycaemic index (GI) of foods we eat.”
Research is showing that a low GI diet may help people with acne by controlling blood sugar levels. This in turn controls levels of metabolic hormones which can interact with sex hormones to make acne worse.
“Low GI foods include wholegrain bread, cereals, fruits and vegetables. So, there’s even more reasons to make these a big part of your daily food intake,” said Dr See.
“Recent studies regarding chocolate and acne have focussed on very high levels of cocoa – up to 99 per cent – and small numbers of males only so it’s not possible to extrapolate these findings to the general population.”
“What we do now is that as chocolate is high in fat and sugar and eating lots of chocolate puts people at risk of weight gain. Being overweight is a known risk factor for acne.”
There is of course some good health news regarding chocolate.
Even the Dietitians Association of Australia says small amounts of chocolate can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle. Dark chocolate is better for you and because it has more complex flavours, it can be more satisfying so you eat less.
“Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, does contain some antioxidants but deep down we all know that we’re better off getting our antioxidants from better nutritional sources, such as fruit and vegetables,” said Dr See.
“Chocolate is a treat - an occasional pleasure – but if you’re going to indulge regularly, there’s more chance of it showing on the scales than your face.”