Consuming grapes appears to provide a photo-protective effect for the skin, potentially representing an added level of sun protection that could be combined with other good sun-protective habits.
This is the conclusion reached by a group of researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) Department of Dermatology, who studied the effects of 14 days of consuming powdered, freeze-dried grapes in 19 healthy human subjects.
In the paper, published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (Jan. 20, 2021), the investigators determined that polyphenols—found in grapes and other fruits and vegetables—were able to reduce acute UV damage in healthy adults. They note this finding replicates those previously seen in mouse models.
The research team observed an average 74.8 % increase in the natural sun protection of the patients’ skin. As well, the polyphenols also had the ability to reduce the production of pro-inflammatory proteins.
“Study results indicate that oral consumption of grapes has systemic beneficial effects in healthy adults,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Allen Oak, in a press release. “These benefits include inhibition of inflammation and repair of DNA damage.” Dr. Oak is a dermatologist in the UAB School of Medicine.
Dr. Oak and his colleagues also found that topical application of proanthocyanidin, a polyphenol found in grape seeds, could reduce sunburn damage.
It is important to note, though, that consuming grapes alone is not sufficient sun protection.
“Grape consumption may act as an ‘edible sunscreen,’” Dr. Oak said. “This does not mean that grapes should be used in lieu of sunscreen, but they may offer additional protection which we are eager to continue learning more about. This research is exciting because our current findings provide building blocks for additional studies that may eventuate in an oral photoprotective product from a natural source.”