No studies have looked at peanut butter and acne in a direct way. But some peanut butters have added sugars and ingredients like omega-6 fatty acids that may make acne worse in some people.
Below, we look at what the evidence says about a possible link between peanut butter in your diet and acne. We also look closely at this food’s health profile and give general advice on how to avoid the skin problem.
Why Peanut Butter Cause Acne?
1. Trans fats
Because it has trans fats, a person might think that peanut butter is bad for acne. Trans fats, which are found in a lot of greasy or processed fast foods, are a major cause of acne.
But a study done in 2016 found that there were almost no trans fats in peanut butter.
In the meantime, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned trans fats in the United States. This means that peanut butter no longer has any trans fats.
2. Saturated fats
In 2014, a study of 248 people ages 18–25 found that saturated fats made their acne worse.
A 45-gram (g) serving of peanut butter has 4.54 g of saturated fat, which is about the same amount as some oils.
But in small amounts, saturated fat isn’t as bad for you as some people think. Chronic diseases may be more likely to happen if you eat a lot of ultra-processed and fried foods that are high in saturated fat.
Just like omega-3s, omega-6s are essential fatty acids, and a person needs to eat them.
Most ultra-processed foods, which are high in omega-6s but low in omega-3s, are a big part of the Western diet. Omega-6s can also be found in peanut butter, which often has different oils in it, like palm oil.
Omega-6s and omega-3s are both important for the body, but it’s important to keep the right balance. If you eat too many omega-6s, which can cause inflammation, and not enough omega-3s, which can reduce inflammation, this could be bad for your health.
Acne is a long-term disease that causes inflammation, so an imbalance that favors the pro-inflammatory omega-6s may make this skin problem worse. A study from 2017 found that eating a lot of omega-6 fatty acids may cause acne to get worse.
For the best skin health, try to find a balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Usually, this means eating more omega-3s and fewer omega-6s, which you can find in processed foods and some vegetable oils, like soybean oil.
4. Peanut agglutinin
Lectins are hard for the body to break down, and they can make the small intestine feel uncomfortable. This damage can make it easier for substances in the intestines to get into the bloodstream by making the intestines more porous.
A 2019 study found that intestinal permeability can lead to acne. This could be because intestinal permeability causes inflammation and weakens the immune system.
But more research is needed before we can come to a conclusion. So far, no studies have found a direct link between peanut agglutinin, acne, and a leaky gut.
Also, an older study from 2011 showed that the amount of lectin in peanuts drops a lot when they are cooked. Overall, there is no proof that the lectins in the roasted peanuts in peanut butter cause acne.
5. Added sugar
Many peanut butters have sugar or other sweeteners added by the company that makes them. There are 4.72 g of sugar in 45 g, which is one serving.
And an older study from 2012 found that eating a lot of added sugar can make you more likely to get acne. So, it’s possible that eating peanut butter with added sugar on a regular basis could lead to breakouts.
Blood sugar spikes can cause acne, so it’s important to know how much added sugar is in foods like baked goods or jelly that you might eat with peanut butter.
To eat less added sugar, look for peanut butters with no added sugar and carefully read the labels to see what’s in them.People often say on peanut butter and other products’ labels that they have “no added sugar.”
6. Acne-causing additives
Peanuts are healthier and better for your skin than peanut butter.
Peanuts are still the most important part of any peanut butter. So, just like peanut butter, peanut butter has a lot of acne-causing fats and lectins that make your skin swell up.
On top of that, most peanut butter you can buy in a store has molasses or sugar in it, which can cause a chain reaction of hormones that cause acne.
Basically, the sugar in sweetened peanut butter causes insulin to rise. Insulin is a hormone that also causes the release of several other compounds, such as IGF-1, IGFBP-3, and IL-1, which all work together to make acne worse:
- IGF-1 makes more sebum oil, which blocks pores.
- IGFBP-3 causes more skin cells to be made, which further blocks pores.
- IL-1 makes inflammation worse, which makes pimples look red, angry, and stick out.
Hydrogenated vegetable oils like rapeseed and soybean oil are also found in a lot of peanut butter. Omega-6 fatty acids cause inflammation, and these vegetable oils have a lot of them. If peanut butter is very inflammatory on its own, when you add these oils, you get a double dose.
Peanut butter probably won’t make you break out. Even though some products have added sugar, the amount of acne-causing ingredients in most products is not very high. Also, peanut butter is a good source of several important nutrients.
But if peanut butter seems to make acne worse, a person might try going without it for a while to see if that helps. Or, they could try other things, like switching to a milder soap.
There are a number of over-the-counter products and home care methods that might help with acne.