Grapes Protect Skin Against Sunburn Damage

Robyn Nazar RN BSN's picture
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Noshing on grapes could increase your natural skin protection against a sunburn, say researchers from a new study. Antioxidant substances found in grapes, called flavinoids, combat the harmful UV rays from the sun by preventing the activation of compounds that cause cellular death.

“Several studies have demonstrated that human skin can be protected against UV radiation by using plant-derived antioxidants,” wrote the study's authors. “Here we evaluated the in vitro capacity of several antioxidant polyphenolic fractions from grape [to protect the skin] against UV-induced oxidative damage.”

When the skin is exposed to UV radiation from the sun, “reactive oxygen species” are activated in the body which cause the skin cells to die. Cosmetically, these dead skin cells appear as a sunburn or later a “tan” but underneath the skin this type of damage causes premature aging, spots, and even cancer.

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In their research, Spanish scientists examined the formation of these “reactive oxygen species” of skin cells in an in vitro laboratory setting while the cells were exposed to UV radiation. They found that the cells that were treated with the grape flavinoids had a much higher antioxidant protection against the UV radiation. Furthermore, the higher the concentration of the flavinoids – the more the cells were protected.

“These encouraging in vitro results support further research and should be taken into consideration into the clinical pharmacology of plant-derived [flaviniod] extracts as novel agents for skin photoprotection,” wrote Cecilia Matito, lead author, and her colleagues.

Currently, there are some sun protection products such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals that use grape extracts in their formulation. However, up until now their exact mechanism of action has been unknown.

This study was published in the March edition of Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Updated 8/5/2013

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