By Hillary Gilson, EatingWell.com
Sunscreen is the first line of defense against sun damage (experts say slather on an ounce — about a palmful — of SPF 30 or higher and re-apply every 2 hours). And now it has some help: New research suggests that these beverages may also deliver nutrients that protect your skin:
1. Green tea
Study results published in the Journal of Nutrition gives us one more reason to sip this super drink. Women who drank four cups of green tea per day for 12 weeks lowered their risk of sunburn by 25 percent, plus their skin density and elasticity–qualities that make skin look younger–improved.
According to the 2011 study, powerful antioxidants in green tea called catechins absorb UV light, protecting the skin.
That morning cup of coffee can do more than boost your energy. A 2011 study out of Harvard Medical School found that people who drink coffee are less likely to develop basal cell carcinoma (the most common type of nonmelanoma skin cancer) than those who don’t.
Moreover, the risk was lowest for those who drank the most; three cups a day lowered risk by 20 percent in women and 9 percent in men. Researcher Fengju Song, Ph.D., thinks the caffeine in coffee helps reduce potentially-cancerous UV-damaged cells by stimulating them to naturally die off.
3. Red wine
Although white wine might be your summer sip of choice, preliminary research out of the University of Barcelona points to a new reason to choose red. Researchers found that proanthocyanidins, antioxidants found in red grapes, may help prevent oxidative reactions in your skin.
Oxidative reactions, often stemming from sun exposure, can damage and kill cells, which in turn may lead to sunburns, wrinkles and possibly skin cancer. Before you pour yourself another glass, though, remember that the recommended cap on alcoholic beverages is one a day for women, two for men.
(EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.)
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