Milk, dark, white, cacao-heavy – mmm chocolate.
A little of what you fancy definitely does you good. But does it do your skin any good? We asked the experts what chocolate really does to your skin – and whether it’s to blame for a breakout.
Help over hinder?
The experts at Elemis claim the jury is still out – but that depending on what chocolate you’re eating it could actually help your skin.
“ What seems most likely is that there is indeed a link between our diet and the state of our skin. A diet high in sugars as well as saturated fats, has been linked with inflamed, clogged pores.
“However, good quality dark chocolate that contains a high percentage of cocoa is also rich in anti-oxidants known as polyphenols which help the body – and our skin – fight free radical damage. Which means the right chocolate, eaten in moderation may actual help – rather than hinder – your skin.”
If dark chocolate isn’t for you, they recommend you prep your skin as much as possible before you start a chocolate binge, and choose a skincare product high in anti-oxidants to give your skin extra protection.
Sugar and inflammation, however, do go hand in hand – which is why a sugary sweet milk chocolate could be causing you spots, as inflammation can be a cause of blemishes.
Nutritionist Christine Bailey explains: “Sugar is one of the major contributing factors to aging skin as it contributes to increased cell damage and inflammation.
“Berries like blueberries are packed with antioxidants, vitamin C and A. Vitamin C is also essential for the production of collagen in the body while vitamin A can be helpful for acne prone skin. Berries are lower in sugar than many other fruits. “
What about the gut?
Another point to consider is what effect chocolate has on the gut. After all, a lot of your skin’s woes can be traced back to what’s going on in your gut. Thankfully, it’s not all bad news.
Dr Naila Arebi, Consultant Gastroenterologist at St Mark’s Hospital commented:
“Chocolate has traditionally been perceived as unhealthy yet many people are unaware of its health benefits. The more favourable and healthy variety stems from its source, the cocoa bean. Fermentation in the bean and subsequent extraction generates cocoa butter and releases a variety of vitamins and minerals such as potassium and anti-oxidants. Cocoa beans also contain dopamine, phenylethylamine and serotonin, chemicals with powerful antidepressant properties that also promote wellbeing.
“A variety of antioxidants are released from the bean directly or more interestingly released by further fermentation by the human gut bacteria. Scientists have uncovered that beneficial chemicals are generated when cocoa is mixed with gut bacteria including the release of further anti-oxidants similar to those found in green tea renowned for its medicinal properties.
“So, is all chocolate good for us? Pure chocolate or dark chocolate is good and is the type that has the benefits listed above. It’s when chocolate is processed that is becomes bad for us. Processing involves the addition of sugars and different forms of dairy products including cream and condensed milk.
“Both sugar and dairy can have an impact on the gut. Sugars cause excess fermentation in the gut and contribute to bloating and excess wind. Dairy products can also contribute to these symptoms as lactose breaks down to the sugars glucose and galactose which can then lead to fermentation. People who are lactose intolerant should be able to tolerate most dark chocolates but should always read the ingredients in case there are flavours containing lactose.”
Make mine in moderation
So does chocolate cause spots? It could; but if you eat it in moderation, and give your skin a prep talk with an antioxidant filled diet, you can try to ward off those spots. Or, swap your milk or white chocolate for high cocoa content dark.