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The surprising fruit that could help protect your skin against sunburn

Eating three-quarters of a punnet of grapes a day can protect against sunburn - THEPALMER/iStockphoto
Eating three-quarters of a punnet of grapes a day can protect against sunburn - THEPALMER/iStockphoto

Eating 60 grapes a day can stop you getting sunburn, according to a new study.

Scientists found people who ate three-quarters of a punnet every day for two weeks were better protected against damage to the skin from ultraviolet light.

Polyphenols found naturally in the fruits are thought to be responsible for the resistance.

Lead study author Professor John Pezzuto, of Western New England University in the US, said: “‘Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’ dates back to the time of Hippocrates.

“Now, after 2,500 years, as exemplified by this human study conducted with dietary grapes, we are still learning the reality of this statement.”

More than 210,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and around 16,000 cases of the more deadly melanoma are diagnosed in Britain each year.

Rates of skin cancer are increasing faster than any other cancer in the UK, with figures doubling every 10 to 20 years.

Most skin cancer cases are linked to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and around 90 per cent of skin ageing is caused by the sun.

Earlier research suggested grapes help stop sunlight from damaging people’s skin.

Grape powder

In the new study, researchers recruited 29 people and fed them two and a quarter cups full of grape powder for two weeks.

They found around a third had some resistance to ultraviolet light after eating grapes, with one in  ten retaining the beneficial effects four weeks after they stopped eating them.

The participants’ skin responses to ultraviolet light was measured before and after eating grapes for two weeks by working out the amount of ultraviolet radiation that caused visible reddening after 24 hours.

The team also analysed participants' gut, blood samples and urine samples.

The same three metabolites, or molecules produced by the body, in urine were depressed in the group who had developed resistance to ultraviolet light.

One of these, called 2-deoxyribose, is a particularly strong indicator of reduced sun damage.

The findings were published in the journal Antioxidants.