Does Chocolate Cause Acne? What the Science Says

Chocolate isn’t only tasty, but it has several health benefits too.

Chocolate can:
– Increase heart health
– Balance the immune system
– Improve brain function
– Reduce stress
– Protect skin from the sun

But sorry – these benefits mainly apply to high quality dark chocolate with minimum sugar and a high percentage of cocoa. Unsurprisingly, the percentage of cocoa solids can affect the magnitude of dark chocolate’s benefits. “The higher percentage of cocoa solids, the more flavonoids and the lower sugar. for 75% or 80% dark chocolate, there’ll be less added sugar than if you were at 50% dark chocolate.”

Does Chocolate Cause Acne? What the Science Says

As a researcher who has spent two decades researching solutions for acne, I’ve read many scientific articles that support the connection between eating chocolate and acne breakouts/increase in acne severity. These findings relate to people who have a tendency toward acne, not those who don’t.

Chocolate affects acne in several ways. First, it has a high glycemic index, meaning the ability to cause a sharp rise in blood sugar.
Second, the milk in it increases the levels of IGF-1, which is known to be related to acne, and also the milk contains estrogen, progesterone, and source molecules for hormones and a molecule called 5-alpha-reductase, substances related to the formation of comedones.

Additional bioactive molecules in milk (with very long names 😉) affect the structure of the mammary gland. In a comprehensive article I wrote several years ago, I reviewed studies linking nutrition – including chocolate – to acne.

So while chocolate has many health benefits, it’s important to consume in moderation, especially if you suffer from acne.

Skip to content