Does groundnut (peanut) cause pimples and acne?

A common topic people debate is whether groundnut (peanut) causes pimple or acnes. Find out in this article whether the groundnut you eat is why you have been developing pimples.

Vector illustration of a woman with pimples

Key takeaways:

  • There is no significant evidence that groundnut directly causes pimples; however, it may contribute to or worsen pimples and acne symptoms
  • Acne is caused by excess sebum production, bacteria, and the overgrowth of skin follicular cells
  • Acne is different from pimples in that acne is a skin disease, while pimple is one of the symptoms of acne

Peanut is commonly called groundnut in parts of the world, like Nigeria. The question of whether peanut causes acne or pimple has raised a lot of controversies.

Many people limit their peanut intake or totally stay away from it despite its health benefits because they believe it is the culprit behind the acne and pimples that form on their skin.

This is understandable because acne is a chronic skin disease that often causes pimples that won't go away even after using different skincare products. Some people get frustrated after trying different at-home acne treatment methods, so they resolve to try dietary adjustments. But does it work? We will find out in this article.

This article discusses whether peanut, also called groundnut, causes pimples or acne and the role it may play in the development of this skin condition. It will also discuss the health benefits of groundnut, the difference between acne and pimple, and how to protect your skin from acne and pimples.

The groundnut and pimple myth

One common myth many people share is that groundnut causes pimples. People tend to believe that because groundnut is an oily food, it can cause the excess production of oil called sebum within the inner layers of the skin, leading to acne and pimples. They claim to notice an increased appearance of pimples after taking groundnut.

People who are allergic to groundnut also believe that eating them causes pimples on their skin.

These are common groundnut-pimple myths that exist today. However, this article is about debunking this myth and sharing accurate information backed by science.

Does groundnut cause pimples? What science says

Groundnut does not directly cause pimples or acne. Acne develops when the opening of hair follicles gets blocked and clogged with dead skin cells and oil, which may lead to the formation of swollen, red, pus-filled lesions called pimples.

It is also generally accepted that the major factors that play a role in the development of acne and pimples are bacteria, excess sebum production, and hyperproliferation of the skin follicle cells.

While some people think they develop pimples and acne when they eat foods like groundnuts, nutritionists and scientists say otherwise. Most studies examining the connection between diet and acne found no significant connection or strong evidence that food causes acne or pimples. However, some studies suggest that diet can aggravate acne or play a role in its treatment.

While it is unlikely that groundnuts cause pimples, some evidence suggests that they may contribute to or worsen the symptoms of existing acne. This is because groundnut contains omega-6 fatty acids and androgen-like content. Even though omega-6 is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, different studies have linked it to increased levels of inflammation and acne.

Androgen hormone is linked to acne development. Males and females have androgen hormones like testosterone (with males having them in higher amounts), but increased production of the male hormone can trigger an increase in the skin's production of sebum. Too much sebum can clog the hair follicles, causing the formation of whitehead or blackhead pimples.

Even though evidence indicates that foods like groundnut do not directly cause acne, we cannot rule out that diet may still play a role in worsening or reducing acne. So, it is best to consume groundnuts and other foods that may increase the risk of inflammation in moderate amounts.

Is groundnut healthy?

Groundnut is packed with nutrients that are healthy for you. Health benefits of groundnut include:

  • It has high protein content and can be a good addition for people that eat low-proteins foods or vegetarians
  • It contains a good amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are good for the heart
  • It contains some minerals like zinc, potassium, calcium, and sodium, which perform important functions in the body
  • It is rich in phenol, an antioxidant that helps protect the cells from harmful effects caused by free radicals
  • It contains some important vitamins that are beneficial to health, e.g., Niacin and Vitamin E

Acne vs. pimple, what is the difference?

People often use the terms "acne" and "pimples" interchangeably; they don't mean the same. The difference between acne and pimple is that acne is a disease, while pimple is one of the symptoms of acne. This means that sometimes, the presence of a pimple can be an indication of an underlying acne condition.

Acne is a skin condition that affects your hair follicles and oil glands. The glands produce oil called sebum and are connected to pores under the skin.

Acne occurs when the dead skin cells and oil (sebum) clog together to form a plug in the skin's follicles. Such plugs contain bacteria that cause inflammation, which will can lead to the appearance of small pimples on the face and other parts of the body, such as the back.

Another difference between acne and pimples is that they often develop over a long period and last for longer, while pimples usually form quickly and go away after a short while.

What causes acne and pimples?

People with acne have a high risk of developing persistent pimples. This is because pimple is a symptom that often accompanies acne.

The main factors that cause acne include:

  • Excess sebum oil production in your body (some hormonal medications like progesterones and phenothiazine sometimes lead to increased sebum production)
  • Bacteria clogging or blocking skin pores
  • Excess dead skin cells accumulating and blocking skin pores

Factors that can contribute to or worsen your acne or pimples include:

  • Smoking cigarette
  • Excess stress
  • A genetic or family history of acne
  • Hormonal changes due to pregnancy or puberty
  • Using face creams, cleansers, and some other skincare products that are not compatible with your skin type

What to do to protect the skin from acne and pimples

Here are things you can do to reduce the risk of developing pimples and acne:

  • Always try to use skin care products that are compatible with your skin type
  • Avoid touching your face with dirty hands
  • Don't sleep with your makeup on; always try to wash them off
  • Moisturize your face regularly
  • Routinely wash your face to remove dirt
  • Find out your skin type; this will help you choose the best products to buy for your skin
  • Drink enough water to keep your skin hydrated
  • Avoid popping your pimples, as it might worsen them, expose them to bacteria infection, or cause inflammation

What to do when you have acne

Acne is not always a critical condition; it can result from hormonal changes that come with puberty or pregnancy. In such cases, it may clear off naturally. However, if you have acne and you notice the following, please visit a dermatologist:

  • Acne that is causing scar
  • Formation of fluid-filled cystic acne
  • Acne that progresses, covering a large part of your body
  • Skin discoloration
  • Pain

Takeaway

No single food causes acne, and avoiding a certain food will not effectively treat acne or pimples. However, there is no denying the fact that certain food, such as groundnuts, may contribute to acne or worsen its symptoms.

Whether eaten in unprocessed form or as peanut butter, groundnut has numerous health benefits. You may not need to cut it off your diet; instead, you should consider eating it in moderation.

In all, if you have pimples, particularly persistent ones, that have refused to go away, it is best to see a certified skincare specialist. Your dermatologist will analyze your symptoms to determine if you have acne or other skin conditions. They will then offer you the best treatment and care unique to your condition.

If you often develop bumps after shaving, learn how to shave without getting razor bumps.

References

  1. Amita H et al., (2022). Acne Vulgaris
  2. Feldman EB. (1999). Assorted monosaturated fatty acids promotes healthy hearts
  3. Joint WHO/FAO/UNU Expert Consultation. (2007). Protein and amino acid requirements in human nutrition
  4. Kristina K et al., (2022). Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  5. Shalini S. Arya et al., (2016). Peanut as functional food.