One common belief is that anyone with acne should avoid eating nuts. But research reveals this is not necessarily the case. Studies from both the American Academy of Dermatology and the Journal of the American Medical Association determined that diet is not responsible for acne. The general consensus, however, is that a low-glycemic diet, which consists of fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein, works best overall for avoiding acne. Whether or not this includes nuts depends on a variety of factors.
Acne occurs when the sebaceous glands overproduce oil (sebum), which then mixes with dead skin cells and blocks pores. Bacteria may develop in these blockages, and inflammation produces skin eruptions called pimples.
One possible drawback of eating nuts is that their high protein and fat content may make them difficult to digest. If these fats and proteins don’t properly digest, the immune system may create antibodies that inflame sebaceous glands and cause pimples. If your skin seems worse after you eat nuts, try roasted rather than raw nuts because the roasting process decomposes many of the proteins. Another option is to soak nuts before eating to help facilitate digestion.
Acne may also develop from allergies. If you suspect your breakouts stem from consuming nuts, keep a food diary. Monitor what you eat and your acne level. Share you findings with your physician and together you can determine any diet or other changes you need to make.
Studies show that nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are helpful as an anti-inflammatory. Walnuts, in particular, are high in omega-3's. However, nuts are also high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are considered the “bad” fat. A healthy diet contains a three-to-one ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil supplements, another excellent source of omega-3's, help offset a high omega-6 intake.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins A, E, B3 and B6 are highly recommended to prevent acne, as are the minerals zinc, selenium and chromium. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium and zinc. Almonds contain vitamin E.
What Not to Eat
While certainly not proven to cause acne, certain foods raise flags and may have adverse effects on skin in general. Suspect foods include milk, refined sugar and carbohydrates (white foods such as bread, potatoes and rice), fried foods, alcohol, chocolate and soda.