Chocolate lovers, rejoice: No studies have shown a direct link between the "food of the gods" (the original Greek meaning behind chocolate's scientific name, Theobroma cacao) and acne. But before diving into that pan of chocolate-fudge brownies, you should know the whole story.
Acne is caused by a strain of bacteria, scientifically known as acne vulgaris. The bacteria can breed in skin pores and hair follicles that become clogged with dirt, excess oils and dead skin cells. A buildup of acne vulgaris can irritate the skin, resulting in whiteheads, blackheads and pimples -- not-so-scientifically known as zits.
But the plot thickens. Acne can be aggravated by many factors that vary from person to person. Common triggers include hormonal surges, environmental pollutants, cosmetics and stress. Some foods also worsen outbreaks in some people, including dairy products and high-glycemic foods (those that make blood sugar levels spike). Some very popular types of chocolate fit both categories.
The problem with trying to pinpoint chocolate, or any factor, as the cause of any one case of acne is that other factors may also be contributors. Suppose you feel stressed about having acne. You eat chocolate to cheer yourself and suffer a flare-up. Was it the stress? The chocolate? Both, or neither one?
To be on the safe side, if you have acne and love chocolate, choose dark chocolate. Made with up to 80 percent cacao, it has more pure chocolate bliss and less sugar and dairy than milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate have.