Food and Acne: What You Eat Matters

Is your child worried about pimples? Read this article to find out more about the relationship between food and acne.
Food and Acne: What You Eat Matters

Last update: 25 February, 2021

Have you ever heard that chocolate causes pimples? The truth is that numerous scientific studies have linked food and acne. Even if it’s not one of the causes, it does have an impact on its evolution.

What is acne?

Acne is a chronic disease involving the inflammation of the skin follicles. It manifests itself through the accumulation of sebum stimulated by androgens. Keratin may also accumulate, leading to clogging. Although acne also involves hormones, there are a number of factors that contribute to the condition:

  • Genetics
  • Nutrition
  • A bacterium known as cutibacterium acnes

It usually appears in adolescence, although it’s frequent in women, especially those who have polycystic ovaries.

Food and Acne: What You Eat Matters

Food and acne: What foods should you avoid?

Mainly, all those with a high glycemic index. This is the ability of food to increase blood glucose values. The higher the speed and therefore the amount of sugar, the higher the glycemic index. It’s therefore advisable to avoid sweets, pastries (including cookies), and white and milk chocolate. You should also limit refined grains (rice, pasta and bread).

Soft drinks and energy drinks are also not recommended, and you should limit as much as possible the sugar you add to coffee, herbal teas, tea and yogurt.

In addition, it’s best to reduce the consumption of dairy products, especially milk. The main reason is that these foods increase IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor). This is a hormone involved in androgen synthesis and sebum production. In addition, milk also contains other androgenic hormones.

What can you eat to reduce the appearance of pimples?

Since acne is a type of inflammation, the most advisable diet is one based on plant-based foods. It’s also a good idea to consume oily fish and quality fats, such as virgin olive oil, nuts, avocado and seeds. Together, they provide a large amount of antioxidants, fiber and anti-inflammatory fats.

Food and Acne: What You Eat Matters

Other recommended quality foods are legumes, eggs and whole grains. It’s important to mention that pure cocoa or chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa (> 75 %) can be consumed.

As acne is a disease that affects the skin, it’s important to keep it well hydrated. You can do this by drinking plenty of water and herbal teas on a daily basis. We also advise you to incorporate brightly colored fruits and vegetables into your diet, because of their high vitamin A content.

In conclusion, it’s a matter of following a healthy diet and seeing a dermatologist and gynecologist in order to evaluate your case or that of your child. These professionals will be able to advise you about other treatments, especially if acne is due to a hormonal problem.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Juhl CR, Bergholdt HKM, Miller IM, Jemec GBE, Kanters JK, Ellervik C (2018) Dairy Intake and Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 78,529 Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. Nutrients, 10(8).
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  • Kumari R, Thappa DM (2013) Role of insulin resistance and diet in acne. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol, 79(3): 291-9.
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  • Aitor Sánchez. (2013) ¿Hay alimentos que producen granos? relación entre la dieta y el acné. [Consultado el 4 de febrero de 2020] Disponible en:

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.