Poke Bowl Pimples - Beach Beauty Bar and Acne Clinic
Poke Bowl Pimples

Poke Bowl Pimples

If you are a poke-bowl lover, don’t cry when you read what I’m about to tell you but that poke just might be the trigger to your poke pimples.

Don’t worry; there is no reason to be disappointed yet. Not all types of sushi or fish are acne-causing culprits. BUT I didn’t say “poke pimples” for nothing – there are ingredients in your favorite meal that you should avoid.

Do you want clear skin?

While poke has long-been a main dish in Hawaii. The trend has exploded onto the mainland food scene in recent years and if you live in SoCal you’ve most definitely seen at least one Poke spot in your hometown. It can’t hurt that alongside grain and acai bowls, poke too, falls under the health halo.

But is it actually healthy for someone with acne prone skin? The short answer is NO but the long answer is, it depends on what ingredients are used.

First things first: Poke, simply put, is deconstructed sushi, with starring ingredients such as rice, raw fish, seaweed, greens, and marinade. Like most healthy food trends, there are ways to keep it on the good-for-you end of the spectrum. And there are ways it can be muddled up with not-so healthy add-ins.

Iodine causes poke pimples

When you get too much iodine in your blood stream it comes out through your sebaceous glands into your pores. This irritates them and causes inflammation, which leads to break-outs.

Seaweed is incredibly triggering for breakouts because it contains high levels of iodine. Poke bowls have a good amount of iodine containing ingredients in them.

Iodine is an essential mineral that we all need some amount of in our bodies. In excess it gets excreted through our follicles. This is where acne takes place and is highly irritating for our pores. Here is the primary cause of those poke pimples you’ve been combating.

The recommended daily value for adults is 150mcg and for pregnant women it’s 220mcg. Most of us, especially in the United States, get more than enough through our daily diets because so many foods and beverages in the US are fortified with iodine.

Rice contributes to poke pimples

Sticky white rice is the most traditional base used in a poke bowl. But brown rice and even alternate grains like quinoa or cauliflower rice are better options. Any grain will give you carbs for energy, though whole grains have the added benefit of fiber to help you feel full longer.

White rice is a high-glycemic food. When you consume it in huge amounts, insulin levels increase which triggers inflammation. Inflammation then leaves your skin prone to acne. Nutrients and fiber in brown rice is higher than white rice and the low-glycemic level is an additional benefit. A clear and glowing complexion starts with a switch from white rice to brown rice.

Fish in poke

Fresh fish or other proteins used in poke bowls need to be chosen with care.  Raw ahi tuna is a popular choice, except poke bowls with wild caught ocean salmon are the best choice for acne prone skin. Traditional poke bowls contain tuna. This particular fish isn’t approved for an acne-safe diet due to the large amounts of iodine it contains.

Salmon delivers the needed protein to keep you satisfied with the extra benefit of serving up loads of omega-3 fatty acids. There are other options for protein in your poke bowl like chicken as well.

Lean protein, healthy fats, plenty of veggies, and a serving of energizing carbs means most poke bowls are pretty balanced and nutritious as they are. But there are definitely ways to tweak the goodness factor for acne-safe poke bowls!

Sauce in poke

It’s worth paying attention to the sauce and the toppings – that’s where the extra salt and sugar add up. Mayo-based sauces and crispy or fried toppings have the biggest impact. Even small amounts of soy or ponzu sauce are packed with sodium AND acne causing ingredients. Soy sauce is a sure-fire way to achieve poke pimples!

There are natural plant estrogens found in soybeans that wreak havoc on our skin. There are alternatives to soy sauce. Try seasoning your poke with toasted sesame oil, scallions, fresh lime juice, or even a soy-free seasoning like Bragg’s Liquid Coconut Aminos. It won’t taste exactly the same, but it’ll still be damn good.

The poke takeaway

Choosing a diet consisting of whole foods and minimizing (white rice, soy and fish with high levels of iodine) is not only best for your skin, but also ideal for optimal overall health. If you’ve been going ham on the poke bowls this summer and you need a reset for your skincare routine, schedule an acne consultation so we can help you get back on track!

Remember – a variety of whole fruits and veggies, lean protein sources, and healthy fats will promote balanced blood sugar, hormones, body weight, and oil production in your skin.

The next time you go out for poke maybe opt out of the seaweed, soy sauce & fish unless its ocean caught salmon. Or better yet – make it a date night at home & make your own delicious acne safe poke bowl with this recipe! *Make sure you exclude any soy sauce, soy ingredients and use fresh ocean caught salmon*

Cheers to clear!


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