The foods we eat can have a major impact on how we look—and I’m not just talking about how well we fit into our skinny jeans. For a dewy, gorgeous complexion, you’re going to want to watch your intake of certain munchies. But here’s the good news: Not all foods known for wreaking havoc on your skin actually deserve their bad reputations. And some foods that have stellar health points aren’t always the best for your face. Here, the truth about foods and your skin—and how to keep that gorgeous, glowy look for good.
MYTH: Chocolate leads to zits and acne
FACT: Not necessarily true. Pure chocolate contains a bevy of skin-beautifying antioxidants and feel-good compounds. However, chocolate that’s loaded with sugar and dairy can trigger a skin freakout.
Takeaway: Indulge in dark chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa and less sugar to treat your skin and body right. And less is more – enjoy a bite or two, not boatload.
MYTH: Fatty foods = ruddy, blotchy skin
FACT: We all know that not all fats are created equal, and it’s especially true when it comes to keeping skin clear and radiant. Nuts and seeds, olive oil and avocado are loaded with skin-beneficial oils and antioxidants like Vitamin E. That heaping plate of fries? Not so much. While saturated fat has been known to make skin angry, experts say that fat is less of a troublemaker for skin than processed foods (especially processed carbs) and sugars.
Takeaway: Opt for plant-based oils in their fresh form, and forgo saturated fat and the processed and fried stuff.
MYTH: Dairy ALWAYS does a body good
FACT: Milk and dairy are a great source of calcium, protein and Vitamin D, right? Yes, but dairy may also be a doozie for your skin. Some skincare experts say that components in milk that are related to testosterone hormones can cause oil glands to go into overdrive, setting the stage for skin upset.
Takeaway: If you’re having trouble with your complexion, try switching to non-dairy options like almond milk, hemp milk and soy milk as a nutrient-rich alternative to dairy. Or try goat and sheep dairy cheeses instead of cow dairy, which some say has less of an effect on skin.
MYTH: Caffeine leads to breakouts
FACT: The claim that caffeine causes acne and breakouts may have more bark than bite. Some experts say it doesn’t directly cause acne, but may aggravate existing conditions. But caffeine has its benefits too. Many caffeine-laden drinks, like coffee and black and green tea, are also loaded with antioxidants that can help defend skin from damage, particularly from the sun.
Takeaway: Drink caffeine in moderation to avoid messing with your beauty sleep (hello, undereye circles), and be sure to drink plenty of water to counteract the dehydrating effects of caffeinated drinks.
MYTH: Natural sweeteners aren’t as bad as refined sugars for the skin
FACT: Sugar is sugar (for the most part). And sugar has inflammatory effects, especially for the skin. Anything that spurs a blood sugar spike causes inflammation and accelerated aging. While some natural sweeteners don’t meddle with blood sugar status quo as much as straight up sugar, the fact is that most things that taste sweet are pretty high on the glycemic index and trigger skin-damaging effects.
Takeaway: Keep sugar (in any form) to a minimum. Opt for natural sweeteners like agave and honey, which are sweeter than sugar so you need less to satisfy your taste buds; or maple syrup, which is loaded with minerals and anti-inflammatory compounds to counter it’s sugary impacts.