Can Peas or Corn Cause Acne?

Diet is a significant factor in acne for some, but not all, people with acne, according to Mark Stengler, a naturopath and co-author of “Prescription for Drug Alternatives.” However, no food — including peas or corn — causes acne 2. The role that diet plays is either in helping to prevent breakouts or making them worse. Peas or corn may help with the former. But, there’s not enough research on their effects in acne. Do not make any alterations to your diet if you have a medical condition or if you’re on a medically supervised diet without consulting your doctor.

Acne Causes

Acne has several key causes. Excessive skin oil resulting from hormonal activity and dead skin cells clog pores. When this occurs, bacteria living on your skin feast on the oil and skin cells clogging your pores. Inflammation is another factor; but, there’s debate about whether it begins after bacterial activity in the clogged pores, or before. However, according to Nicholas Perricone, a dermatologist and author of “The Acne Prescription,” inflammation is a factor before a pimple appears because it causes the stickiness in pores that causes them to become clogged in the first place 1.

The Role of Peas or Corn

Scientific evidence specifically on peas or corn improving or aggravating acne does not exist. However, peas have a low glycemic index and corn has a medium glycemic index. A food with a low to medium glycemic index does not cause blood glucose levels to rise as rapidly as a food with a high glycemic index, thereby helping insulin levels to remain stable. Insulin is a hormone that boosts inflammation levels in your body, which aggravates acne, according to Stengler. In theory, then, peas and corn are not likely to make acne worse.


According to a study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” in July 2007, researchers looked at how a low-glycemic diet affected acne in male patients aged 15 to 25. The researchers found that the diet helped to improve insulin sensitivity in the study participants. Insulin sensitivity refers to your body’s ability to efficiently use insulin and take up or metabolize glucose. Also, the diet reduced acne lesions in the male patients.


Peas with the lowest glycemic index include split peas, chick peas and cow peas, according to the GI Database 3. For corn, you may want to stick to the “Honey and Pearl” variety, which has the lowest GI. Also, it’s worth discussing with your dermatologist dietary changes that may improve your acne. It’s especially important to seek medical advice before altering your diet if you have a health problem such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease or rheumatoid arthritis.