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Most of us hardly think of grapes outside of the delicious wines this fruit produces. But did you know that grapes are bursting with health benefits? A powerhouse of antioxidants and vitamins C and K, grapes are great for heart health, can ward off cancer, and even keep diabetes at bay.
And if this recent study is to be believed then grapes can also protect your skin against UV damage. Yes, you read that right!
A human study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that consuming grapes protects against ultraviolet (UV) skin damage caused by the sun.
Study subjects showed increased resistance to sunburn and a reduction in markers of UV damage at the cellular level. Natural components found in grapes known as polyphenols are thought to be responsible for these beneficial effects.
The study, conducted at the University of Alabama, Birmingham and led by principal investigator Craig Elmets, M.D., investigated the impact of consuming whole grape powder—equivalent to 2.25 cups of grapes per day—for 14 days against photodamage from UV light.
Subjects’ skin response to UV light was measured before and after consuming grapes for two weeks by determining the threshold dose of UV radiation that induced visible reddening after 24 hours – the Minimal Erythema Dose (MED).
Grape consumption was protective, it was found. More UV exposure was required to cause sunburn following grape consumption, with MED increasing on average by 74.8%.
Analysis of skin biopsies showed that the grape diet was associated with decreased DNA damage, fewer deaths of skin cells, and a reduction in inflammatory markers that if left unchecked, together can impair skin function and can potentially lead to skin cancer.
“We saw a significant photoprotective effect with grape consumption and we were able to identify molecular pathways by which that benefit occurs – through the repair of DNA damage and downregulation of proinflammatory pathways,” said Dr Elmets.
“Grapes may act as an edible sunscreen, offering an additional layer of protection in addition to topical sunscreen products,” added Dr Elmets.
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