We all need a little sunshine in our lives — not just figuratively but physically. The vitamin D our body makes after sun exposure can help us fight off deadly diseases ranging from diabetes and heart disease to dementia and respiratory infections, like COVID-19. But there’s a strong argument for sun protection, too…
Yet, get too much sun and skin cancer could be the result. In fact, an estimated one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. And to top it all off, a whopping 90 percent of skin aging has been proven to be caused by the sun.
Now, however, thanks to science, researchers have found a simple and tasty way to guard your skin against UV damage and even decrease your chances of sunburn…
Polyphenols for sun protection
The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology specifically found that eating grapes:
- Protected against ultraviolet (UV) skin damage.
- Increased resistance to sunburn
- Reduced markers of UV damage at the cellular level.
According to the researchers, this protection is likely due to compounds found in the fruit, known as polyphenols — the most abundant antioxidants available in our diet. And grapes are well known for the most researched antioxidant of all, resveratrol.
So just how much do you have to eat and how much protection do grapes provide?
Well, the research, conducted at the University of Alabama, Birmingham asked participants to consume a whole grape powder — equivalent to eating 2.25 cups of grapes per day — for 14 days.
And they measured their skin’s response to UV light before and after.
The results showed that the grape consumption made it harder for UV radiation to produce visible reddening of the skin — actually increasing the sunburn threshold by a whopping 74.8 percent.
And that same level of grapes in the diet also decreased DNA damage, resulted in fewer deaths of skin cells, and reduced the inflammatory markers that if left unchecked, can impair skin function and even lead to skin cancer.
Not bad for a tasty treat!
An extra layer of protection
Lead researcher, Craig Elmets, M.D summed up the result like this, “We saw a significant photoprotective effect with grape consumption and we were able to identify molecular pathways by which that benefit occurs — through repair of DNA damage and downregulation of proinflammatory pathways.”
And he goes on to say that, “Grapes may act as an edible sunscreen, offering an additional layer of protection in addition to topical sunscreen products.”
Yep, sunscreen you can eat to guard your skin against cancer and the aging caused by the UV damage that racks up on a daily basis.
Good ways to get more grapes in your diet each day include:
- Adding grapes to your salads
- Slicing them on top of your breakfast of yogurt, oatmeal or French toast
- Including grapes in your favorite smoothie recipes
- Consider supplementing grape power. You can find grape powdered mix (like used in the study), grape skin extract or grape seed extract in many supplements — all rich in polyphenol compounds.
Whatever way you choose to add grapes to your diet, consider them a healthy addition to helping you protect your skin from sun damage — with extra benefits.
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Grape consumption may protect against UV damage to skin — EurekAlert!
New evidence that vitamin D prevents respiratory infections — MedicalNewsToday