Anti-Acne Diet? Here’s What Derms Actually Recommend

Foods for healthy skin

Have you ever noticed that trendy diets often claim to clear your skin in addition to promising lightning-fast weight loss? Don’t assume it’s because of the foods you’re being asked to cut out.  Although some small studies show an association between increased acne and foods with a high-glycemic index (white bread, sugar, processed cereals), there are no “rigorous” studies proving certain foods cause breakouts, says Hooman Khorasani, MD, chief of the division of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery for the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.

What does make a difference? Optimizing what you are eating. “[Healthy] food contains nutrients we need to fight and kill bad bacteria,” says New York City board-certified dermatologic surgeon Dendy Engelman, MD. “Without them, the skin can feel threatened and become inflamed.”

Below, five nutrient-dense foods that can support healthy skin when part of a balanced diet.

The Best Foods for Healthy Skin


Coconut’shealthy fats and antibacterial nutritional composition” have the potential to help keep acne away and help hydrate your skin, says Engelman. But Fitbit dietitian Tracy Morris notes research supports using coconut oil on your skin rather than eating it.

How to eat it: If you do want to enjoy the tropical treat, go easy (it’s loaded with saturated fat, after all!) and remember that not all coconut products are created equal. Check out these 6 Healthy Ways to Go Nuts for Coconut.


Eating this healthy, versatile fruit can help flood your complexion with all the good stuff. “Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats, B vitamins, niacin and folate, and vitamins C and E, which all play a role in skin health,” says Morris. All those  skin-enhancing vitamins could “help support the structures of collagen and elastin in your skin and keep your skin hydrated,” agrees Engelman.

How to eat it: There’s so much more you can do with avocado besides putting it on your morning toast. Try it in a California Roll Sushi Bowl or add it to a salsa for fish tacos.


Think kale and broccoli, and you’re on track. Veggies provide some iron, as well as B vitamins, and vitamins A and E, all of which could support your immune system, says Engelman. “The phytochemicals and folates can also help hydrate skin and keep it healthy.”

How to eat them: Salads and smoothies are an easy way to sneak in more greens, but you can also easily add veggies to soups, frittatas, and pizza.


These “power foods” carry healthy, monounsaturated fats, and B vitamins, as well as vitamins A and E, minerals, and antioxidants. “Due to the nutritional density of nuts and seeds, you could promoting your skin’s elasticity, helping regenerate cells, and protecting against free radicals by eating them,” says Engelman.

How to eat them: Skip the pre-packaged granola bars and give these Energy Bites a shot. Packed with almonds and hemp seeds, they make a healthier pre- or post-workout snack.


Of course, you should drink water to support your overall health, but adding more water-dense fruit into your diet is a great (and yummy!) way to stay hydrated and help protect your skin, says Engelman. “Most fruit contains high levels of vitamins A and C, as well as powerful antioxidants that replenish nutrients in skin, promote collagen production, and help keep your skin supple and firm,” she explains. In other words, the opposite of acne prone.

How to eat it: Sink your teeth into juicy, grilled peaches on top of a delicious salad. And you can’t go wrong using sweet fruit as an overnight-oats topper.

10 Comments   Join the Conversation

10 CommentsLeave a comment

  • You missed out the most import part- not eating dairy. Even if you eat the foods in this article, if you eat dairy as well it’s all for nil!

    • I read this and had the exact same thought, i have suffered with on/off acne for years and the only thing that has stopped the flare ups is cutting dairy.

      Always find it funny how articles like this miss this key point out, guess it depends on who sponsors who! health is second only to profit lol.

    • Could not agree more. After being a dairy lover for years and suffering regular break outs, cutting dairy back to a minimum brought immediate results.

      Make me wonder what else we should avoid.

  • Acne is a nightmare to me when summer comes, especially after I go to sleep late. I need to have proper diet to get healthy skin. Fortunately, Your list you recommend has my favorite fruits and vegetable. Hope to read more topic from you!

  • I am a user of fit bit and use for exercise. However I have a skin problem called Psoriasis. I largely follow the above diet for a healthy skin, but do not find it helping with my psoriasis.

    Can any one help?

  • Could you please suggest what can I use or drink for a swelling on the left side of my cheek toward my chin . I visited my dentist last week and was given a thorough cleaning. Using mouth wash before bedtime.

  • Im surprised by this article. I guess every body is different. Cutting out dairy was a major thing that helped me. But cutting out high fat foods, even “healthy” fats was the last thing I needed to do to really clear my skin. So nuts, seeds and avocados are a no-go for me anymore

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