Articles, Blog

Does Chocolate Cause Acne?

August 25, 2019

“Does Chocolate Cause Acne?” Acne affects nearly 1 in
10 people in the world, making it perhaps the eighth
most prevalent disease worldwide. What’s the role of nutrition? Well, go back a century
and dermatology textbooks were recommending various
dietary restrictions. For example, recommending
those with acne avoid foods like pork, sausage, cheese, pickles, pastries, sweets,
cocoa, and chocolate. Yeah, but old-timey medicine
was full of crackpot theories. Dr. Kellogg, for example,
blamed acne on masturbation. Nothing a few corn flakes
couldn’t fix though… Population studies have
found associations between acne and the
consumption of foods like dairy, sweets, and chocolate, but you don’t know if
it’s cause and effect… until you put it to the test. There have been high quality reports, like the Harvard Nurse’s study, that looked at nearly 50,000 women and found a link between adolescent
milk drinking and acne, particularly skim milk, something that’s been found
for teenage boys as well. They thought it might be the hormones in milk that were responsible, but it could also be
the milk protein, whey, of which they add
extra to skim milk to make it less watery, which may play a role directly in acne formation or
as hormonal carriers. That would explain cases like this: where whey protein
powders were implicated in precipitating acne
flares in teens who had acne that just didn’t
seem to want to go away until they stopped the whey. It doesn’t appear to just
be a protein effect, since soy protein
supplements, for example, did not seem to cause
the same problem. But, for dairy, in terms
of interventional studies, all we have are these
kinds of case series. If you do a systematic review
of acne and nutrition, you get results like this for dairy: out of the 20 or so papers
on acne and dairy out there, about three-quarters
suggest adverse effects, and the remainder report no effect, with no studies suggesting
a beneficial effect of dairy on acne; so, you could look at
this and conclude a dairy-free diet is worth a try. But, this is based
on low-grade evidence, level C and D evidence, where C is like the
population studies, and D is kind of like those
series of case reports. What we want ideally are randomized interventional studies,
level A and B evidence, which we don’t have for dairy, but we do have for chocolate. When it comes to acne, no food is more universally
condemned than chocolate. So, if you’re the Chocolate
Manufacturers Association, how are you going
to design a study to make your product
not look so bad? Well, you can always use
the old drug company trick of pitting your product against something even worse; and so, they fed people chocolate bars versus
fake chocolate bars made out of a partially
hydrogenated vegetable oil: trans fats. So, make it have more sugar, throw in some milk protein, and make it 28% pure trans fat laden, Crisco-like vegetable shortening. And surprise, surprise there were just as many pimples on the fake chocolate bars, allowing them to conclude
that eating high amounts of chocolate is A-OK when it comes to acne. And, the medical community fell for it. “Have we been guilty of taking candy away from babies?” “Too many patients harbor the delusion that their health can somehow
be mysteriously harmed by something in their diet.” That original study “finding
that chocolate consumption supposedly does not
exacerbate acne has continued to remain
virtually unchallenged for decades and continues to be cited” even in recent reviews. For example, this pediatrics journal. Years ago, it was demonstrated that chocolate consumption
had no effect on acne. “This serves as a cautionary example of how ‘research-based evidence’ should be vigorously scrutinized prior to being incorporated
into clinical practice.” Just because something
is published in the Journal of the American
Medical Association doesn’t necessarily mean
it’s a good study, especially when industry
interests are involved. Maybe we should be
telling acne patients to try cutting down on not
only the sweets and the dairy but also the trans fats found in partially hydrogenated
vegetable oils, but we can’t be unequivocal in our advice to acne sufferers on foods to include or exclude until… they’re put to the test
in well-designed randomized controlled clinical trials. But there simply weren’t any such trials on acne, until… NOW, which we’ll cover, next.


  • Reply David Gardell March 16, 2018 at 12:02 pm


  • Reply ElChico114 March 16, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    Still have acne as a vegan. b12 is a cause. Soy could cause it. Nuts causes it. But oil for sure.

  • Reply Danny S March 16, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    I stopped drinking milk and my acne got a lot better.

  • Reply TheOnlyFairee March 16, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Wish going vegan, cutting out gluten, sugar, oil, or all processed foods cured my acne. I've tried every diet or skincare routine under the sun, nothing has made it better or worse in any way 🙁

  • Reply Cassandra Bankson March 16, 2018 at 12:09 pm


  • Reply Jan Hradecký March 16, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    To be continued damn… The suspense is killing me!

  • Reply Lincoln Clay March 16, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    I eat a shit load of chocolate! Mostly dark chocolate though.

  • Reply Johny Days March 16, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    what a cliffhanger!

  • Reply JellyfishGroupStan March 16, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    that's my one problem with dr. pimple popper. i love her to bits, but she keeps telling patients in all her videos that diet has no impact on acne, when that's just not true

  • Reply Chelsey Rumberger March 16, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    You talk so annoying but I really love these sorts of videos. Guess I'ma compromise.

  • Reply hambaga March 16, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    Omg that cliffhanger! I’m addicted to chocolate, but I’m trying to cut down.

  • Reply GoustiFruit φ March 16, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    In my experience… nope, chocolate does not cause acne, at least not dark chocolate (no milk).

  • Reply Raf Naegels March 16, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Do you know da whey?

  • Reply Анна Лищинская March 16, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    I had terrible cystic acne after consuming vegan chocolate last fall. Cocoa oil, I guess. Yesterday I ate it and no bad effect. I really think that food is trigger, but it is different all the time, so the question is what in me chooses the trigger and why…

  • Reply Aldi More March 16, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    You have to love a good cliff hanger! Go Dr Greger! Monday we get the rest of the story.

  • Reply sooooooooDark March 16, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    masturbation actually does mess with ur skin
    no studies needed for that
    everyone knows who can keep their act together

  • Reply tHE-ARTilect March 16, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Can I just take a moment to give thanks to Dr. G. He has been such an inspiration, and has helped me learn how to take control over my health. My prayers go out for your prosperity and happiness Doc. You are a great example of what a truly beautiful human is.

  • Reply Rage Raiden March 16, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    I stopped milk 4 years ago, 2 weeks later I was acne free.

  • Reply Rosa H March 16, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    You are the worst tease in the history of the world. Whyyyyyyyyyyyy.

  • Reply meow0meow7 March 16, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    chocolate is crack.

  • Reply aaron freeman March 16, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    Milk chocolate or dark chocolate?

  • Reply TheVitalBlend March 16, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    One culprit for acne is FAT. If you're a vegan and struggling with acne, remove the fat… I mean avocados, nuts, oils, give it a try.

  • Reply Gerald Ford March 16, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Roses are red.
    Violets are blue.
    I got clickbaited.
    And so did you.

  • Reply Pervy March 16, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    I used to have really bad acne and eventually some ugly basal skin cancer warts across my face. Ever since going plant based all of that went away which was pretty amazing. Everyday I could see and feel the warts getting eaten away, and the acne melting down until just flaking away like dead skin. Wish I knew about this years ago haha, but I'm glad I know about it now.

    Cocoa I never found to cause acne in me post going the change in diet, but if ever I eat anything animal based I get a pimple popping up somewhere without fail haha. Told my brother about it and it was the same way for him.

  • Reply Mimijona March 16, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Finally the topic of acne is being addressed apart from just milk consumption!

  • Reply jstock2317 March 16, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    The master of cliff-hangers!

  • Reply Der Wandersmann March 16, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    aaahhhhh, cliffhanger!

  • Reply mikeday66 March 16, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    Never giving up chocolate. 🙂

  • Reply Oleg Petliovich March 16, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    Finally video not on mammograms😁

  • Reply SloppyMcFloppy March 16, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    I’ve been eating a low fat vegan diet and exercising and I’m still getting small breakouts and pimples, will this stop any time soon or is it hormones?

  • Reply Eelke Aptroot March 16, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    Even if I mix in merely 2 tablespoons of raw cacao nibs into some mixture, I end up with more blackheads the next week sometimes even big fat inflamed cystic bumps. I know it's only an anecdote, but one I've seen so many times, I'm not taking any chances giving my self a randomized double blind placebo control trial. But I'd still like to know what the scientists found.

  • Reply dusty ytsud March 16, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    Never had acne, but I do get pimples if I ruin my diet for two – three days in a row and eat stuff like cheese, chocolate, wine.. usually it happens during holidays like Christmas or thanksgiving . When I get back on track with the diet and eat plant based all pimples and breakouts go away in a heartbeat .

  • Reply Luka Brkljačić March 16, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    One word people "hormones". You can lower the precent of acne by some diet regime, but, something that will work for you not might work for me, people are little bit different in that way. I am 23 year old and have an acne problem all over my back and a little bit over the chest since 15. Now I am using something called "Oranozol shampoo (ketoconazolum)" it is a shampoo for dandruff, but it also works for acne, dermatologist prescribe me this a few month ago, but it is a temporary solution. A lot of people in medical fields told me that only after your hormones got balanced your acne problem will go away to and in every human being is about until 25-30.
    Thats what I had been told

  • Reply FearKV March 16, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    Every time i eat dark chocolate or eat an extra banana a day and i break out

  • Reply NataschaO March 16, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    My guess is that >70% cocoa chocolate is going to be okay, even beneficial for acne conditions, due to cocoa's anti-inflammatory properties. Milk chocolate will be problematic because of the dairy component. 😀

  • Reply Leadmare.Libertad March 16, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    Thank you Dr Greger for touching this subject again. I can’t wait to see you do more videos on pcos. Even after changing to a healthier diet and face products, still struggling with cystic acne and I know is due to my pcos.

  • Reply Jigglypoop97 March 16, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    Can you make this acne series as long as the mammogram series?

  • Reply da gawd March 16, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    I eat cacao powder everyday

  • Reply Veggie Soup March 16, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    Cocoa / Cacao is High in Oxalates, Histamines & Mold Mycotoxins. Many foods high in Oxalates can cause acne, especially if you exceed the limit your body can handle. Also Glyohosate(Roundup herbicide) converts down to Oxalate!! so it's accumulating in people & joints too causing chronic pain, so peeps genetically unable to break down Oxalates in body, can't handle eating foods HIGH in Ox anymore.

  • Reply Maple Flavor March 16, 2018 at 7:50 pm


  • Reply I've Explored Exploration March 16, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    Until now!! But go f* yourself till the next episode… XD

  • Reply neonegypt March 16, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    Dr G, I appreciate all the hard work you do to get good information out, but these cliffhanger videos are Not cool. You may find it to be cute and humorous, but for someone who is trying to help a loved one through a debilitating disease, this can be very frustrating. I realize acne is not a debilitating disease but you have been doing this type of thing more commonly on other more serious topics as well. Just a suggestion.

  • Reply kubasniak March 16, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    Yes!!! 100%. Always when I eat fucking chocolate I get pimples the next day. ALWAYS!

  • Reply Vegan4Life March 16, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    Ive been vegan for 5 years I eat everything im supposed to and STILL HAVE ACNE. I eat beans, whole grains, a ton of veggies, fruit, some nuts( very small amount) and no oil or processed junk also 99% of what I eat is organic. I do no drugs or alcohol and also workout and run 6 days a week. I sleep well and drink only water. So clearly diet alone does not heal everyone.

  • Reply TallWaters March 16, 2018 at 9:29 pm


  • Reply Janet Kay March 16, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    What a tease!🤣

  • Reply Ivar Andrè March 16, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    Hello! I am Andrè, 20 years old from Norway, and I have a question about Blood pressure. I try to promote a vegan lifestyle to all my friends and family, and has helped me a lot when it comes to facts and such. But my step-Father basically only eats Hot dogs. like ALWAYS. if not he eats cheese or ham on bread. But according to what he tells me, his doctor tells him that his blood pressure is normal. And ive heard the same in similar cases. Why is this? Are the tests imperfect, or are some people able to not raise their bloodpressure levels..? I would love an answer to this. Because it seems way too fishy to me. Thank you for answering, again, loving what you do here! – Andrè

  • Reply Matthew Cawkill March 16, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    Could you do more videos like this!

  • Reply LIFTING THE VEIL March 16, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    but…. DAVID AVOCADO SAYS CHOCOLATE LINES UP PLANETARILY WITH THE SUN, and is on the same octave as a warm spring day, the same octave as a baby's smile… 😛

  • Reply LIFTING THE VEIL March 16, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    cacao explodes your adrenal glands! lol –_

  • Reply LIFTING THE VEIL March 16, 2018 at 10:51 pm

    wanna see dr greger and david avocado do battle.

  • Reply William Read March 16, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    Chocolate made David Wolfe go koo koo for cocoa

  • Reply Whole Food Plant-Based Man March 16, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    I am trying to figure out the relationship between food and libido. When I eat whole plant-based food, I am realize how high my libido is. I masturbate about 10 times per day. But as soon as I eat some raw, cold cheese, my libido becomes lower to a point which is tolerable, and I can continue doing my everyday activities. I also like to compare this to a time when I tried a single tablet of xanax about 6 years ago, and my libido was at its lowest point ever; it was basically gone. My libido was virtually indistinguishable. I'm going to continue whole plant-based food and occasionally have some cheese from time to time just so my libido stays right in the middle between these two high and low points. I really wish there was more research showing the relationship between libido and the foods we eat.

  • Reply Andre Bundy March 16, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    Dark chocolate??

  • Reply Rhimi Lee March 17, 2018 at 12:08 am

    Lol Kellogg- masturbation contribute to acne?! It probably helps considering a positive stress release

  • Reply m0L3ify March 17, 2018 at 1:04 am

    To everyone complaining about the cliffhanger…you know you can just google the paper and read it yourself, right? This one's not even behind a pay wall. #pubmedisyourfriend

  • Reply jholmie March 17, 2018 at 4:16 am

    re: masturbation i heard "pornflakes" instead of "cornflakes" 😂😂

  • Reply Alexander Sandalis March 17, 2018 at 4:31 am

    Anyone got any info on utilizing whey protein derived from goat instead of cows?

  • Reply Fernando Fontenla March 17, 2018 at 7:23 am

    What is the prevalence of acne among raw vegan teenagers? I bet it is far less than general public.

  • Reply Rad Derry March 17, 2018 at 8:45 am

    It is dairy products that give you acne, a good source of cancer too.

  • Reply XXina123 P March 17, 2018 at 8:50 am

    "until now" 🙂

  • Reply alia March 17, 2018 at 10:08 am

    I think the chocolate and whey theories are true. I used to be a hardcore chocolate binger (milk chocolate) before going vegan. I could eat a whole chocolate bar in one sitting. My acne was terrible. I still notice that I get pimples sometimes after eating cocoa-heavy meals. Also my face looks best when I eat lots of fruit and get more sun (with reasonable SPF ofc), so during summer.

  • Reply Rebecca Jane March 17, 2018 at 10:20 am


  • Reply David McMillan March 17, 2018 at 10:36 am

    No chocolate or dairy is the whey forward

  • Reply Einstein Keinstein March 17, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    The "which we'll cover next" is the opposite to "until now" . Both in sequence was too much, it gave me a nausea gut feeling.

  • Reply William Read March 17, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    MYCOTOXINS have a negative health effects on your brain and immune system-inflammation. MYCOTOXINS are found in beans, corn, chocolate, nuts, grains and coffee and would make a great video! Also Mycotoxins from mold in your house causes compromised immune system and can cause death.

  • Reply Gabriela One March 17, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    I tried everything, but the the only thing worked for me is to stop eating meat, dairy and added more vegetables and fruits to my diet. Also, I buy whole foods with no additives. Now, I make my own chocolate.

  • Reply muminka March 17, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    Hell yeah it does

  • Reply xxAniko March 17, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    I think it really matters what kind of Chocolate you are eating….
    70% + vegan chocolate. 👍👍👍

  • Reply Kitty Gemma March 17, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    Stress can cause acne. I've noticed that I've been more stressed and more depressed for the past month and my acne on my face has appeared.
    I do think that chocolate can cause acne depending on the type and the ingredients.
    I've noticed that if I consume a high cocoa content chocolate [90% or higher] I get less acne compared to a lower cocoa content.
    Don't seem to get more acne if I consume raw cacao nibs

  • Reply Jdzl March 17, 2018 at 11:39 pm

    anything causes acne if your gut flora is so unbalanced, candida is the reason or part of it

  • Reply edgar sandoval March 18, 2018 at 5:55 am

    Hey! I thanks for all your great videos. Could you make one about added calcium in soy and almond milk? I’ve heard that calcium in cow’s milk is associated with osteoporosis later in life. If that is the case, Isn’t it worst to have “50% more calcium than milk” as alternative beverages advertise?
    Thanks again for sharing knowledge!

  • Reply SSBMan March 18, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Gah I wanna know! Though I'm guessing it doesn't because Dr. Gregor says he occasionally eats chocolate and doesn't have any acne, that's proof it doesn't right?

  • Reply Leon Schuring March 18, 2018 at 11:31 am

    How many cases should there be for a study to be level A instead of B?

  • Reply Ben Jones March 18, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh… you have done this so many times now!!! Please just give us the answer. I have 15 questions like this that never actually get a video with an answer!!! So frustrating.

  • Reply Cat N. March 18, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    I drink two cups of black coffee (organic) and eat dark 85% chocolate (organic) with it every day and have no acne at all.

  • Reply RTussenIO March 18, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    Aargh! Another cliffhanger!

  • Reply Hollywood Mpressive March 18, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    😂 his knowledge is great his deliver is Golden his voice hilarious

  • Reply Freestyle March 18, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    It always caused me acne, until age 58 when I went keto. Now I eat all the dark chocolate I want (up to three squares/day). Now great skin.

    So this video doesn't answer the question? What kind of weird clickbait is this?

    Also, is this guy drunk? He sounds three sheets to the wind and distressed in his bowels. Maybe all the carbs are fermenting and causing problems?

  • Reply vsboy 25 March 19, 2018 at 3:44 am

    Milk from animals is a problem.

  • Reply Plant Sugar March 20, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Wooo, cliffhanger! Personally I avoid chocolate because it contains caffeine, and there is a high probability that caffeine is not good for your body. There might also be other harmful substances in chocolate like theobromine….

  • Reply Kleo3392 March 20, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    No, milk does. There, saved you 5 minutes.

  • Reply Gewgulkan Suhckitt March 23, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    One possible complication with regards to chocolate and acne. Lots of people touch their faces. So, if they are eating chocolate and touching their faces, they are getting trace amounts of that on their face. My point is that suppose you DID find a strong correlation between eating chocolate and acne, it might actually be a result of face touching, not ingestion.

  • Reply YordleTV March 25, 2018 at 4:44 am

    i eat pure AF diet (vegetables, fruts) and i still have acne…

  • Reply Blue -eyed April 22, 2018 at 9:09 am

    Is your second name Strawmam?

  • Reply Selena Marie May 23, 2018 at 3:45 am

    Can you make a video of Peanuts and acne also hydrogenated oils?

  • Reply Raphael Quaglio August 13, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Cocoa or the cocoa butter DOES cause pimples! But that may be the sugar and fat rather than any component of cocoa powder.

  • Reply TheArtist March 22, 2019 at 7:49 am

    Just thought I'd whey in on this to see of it was a myth.

  • Reply Rocko May 15, 2019 at 11:18 pm

    I’m eating chocolate rn

  • Reply lordoftheflings July 9, 2019 at 11:20 pm

    Until you…put it to the test. Talk like a normal human being damnit!

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