Eating grapes may be a surprising way to reduce UV skin damage

Eating grapes may provide protection against damaging ultraviolet sun rays that lead to sunburn, skin damage, and, potentially, the development of skin cancer. The findings were recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, noting that plant chemicals called polyphenols are likely the reason for this possible benefit.

The study comes from the University of Alabama, where researchers tasked participants with consuming whole grape powder that was equivalent to eating two-and-a-quarter cups of fresh grapes daily. Before and after the two weeks the grape powder was consumed, the researchers used UV light to determine the dose of UV radiation needed to cause 'visible reddening' 24 hours later.

The comparison found that after consuming the grape powder for two weeks, the participants' demonstrated greater resistance to UV damage and required more exposure to the damaging rays before a sunburn would result — this was called the Minimal Erythema Dose (MED), which increased by an average of 74.8-percent.

Skin biopsies were taken from the participants and revealed that the grape powder diet may have resulted in lower inflammatory markers, lowered skin cell death, and lowered DNA damage. The findings indicate that adding grapes to one's diet may be a simple, potentially effective way to help reduce skin damage and one's odds of developing skin cancer.

The study's principal investigator Dr. Craig Elmets explained:

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. Grapes may act as an edible sunscreen, offering an additional layer of protection in addition to topical sunscreen products.