We’ve heard for many years that chocolate and French fries (and fried foods in general, for that matter) seem to cause breakouts—and also that they don’t. This theory has been put forth, debunked and resurrected over and over again.

But let’s face it: these foods aren’t doing you or your skin any favors. If you’re noticing a correlation between something you eat and the state of your skin the next day, you may be on to something.

No, it may not be the cacao or the fried food that’s causing your breakouts. But there are certain ingredients in those foods that actually could cause damage. In chocolate, it’s milk solids and iodine. And in fries, it’s the salt.

Iodine: Friend and Foe

The mineral iodine is an important part of your daily diet—but it’s also the biggest culprit aggravating acne-prone skin. So the key here is balance.

Our bodies need iodine to make thyroid hormones, which control the body’s metabolism and other important functions. But we only need 120 to 150 micrograms a day. In other words, about half a teaspoon.

Foods with Iodine

  • Dairy

This one is a biggie. And it’s not just milk, but anything containing milk. Yes, we’re talking about cheese, yogurt and ice cream, for starters.

Farmers give their cows cattle feed that’s rich in iodine, so naturally the iodine is transferred to the cows’ milk.

If you have acne-prone skin, try to steer clear of other dairy derivatives as well, such as whey protein and powders.

  • Dark leafy greens

It’s true that dark leafy greens such as broccoli, spinach and kale are good for you. They’re also high in iodine. But most people don’t eat very many leafy greens every day.

The truth is, you’re better off getting your necessary daily dose of iodine from dark leafy greens than from the processed foods that now dominate so many of our diets.

A spinach salad with grilled chicken? Perfectly healthy. A serving of broccoli with salmon and rice? Also OK. Remember, you still need half a teaspoon of iodine every day for your body to produce hormones in the thyroid gland.

On the other hand, if you’re having pizza and other fast foods several times a week, and your go-to snack is a protein shake with whey protein, biotin (vitamin H), milk and peanut butter — it may be time to rethink your diet to help save your skin.

The Diet-Skin Connection

So now you know there’s a connection between your diet and your skin’s. And you know that consuming too much iodine aggravates acne-prone skin. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Read more articles to balance your acne-free lifestyle.