Antioxidants in green tea can help fight harmful UV rays, a new study finds.

Antioxidants in green tea can help fight harmful UV rays, a new study finds.

Just in time to battle the scorching summer sun, new research shows that drinking or supplementing with green tea may help protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

Green tea is rich in antioxidants that scavenge harmful free radicals in the body and, as new research reports, on the skin. Researchers from the University of Witten-Herdecke in Germany found that “consumption of dietary flavonoids from tea may confer photoprotection and improve skin quality.”

Published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Nutrition, the researchers found that, in addition to topical application, drinking large amounts of green tea conferred similar protective benefits against UV radiation and visible signs of aging.

The researchers randomly assigned 60 female volunteers between a green tea and a placebo group. Each woman drank one liter of either green tea or a control beverage designed with a tart flavoring daily for 12 weeks. The researchers measured serum flavonoid content and performed skin assessments at baseline, week 6, and again after 12 weeks.

After 12 weeks of tea consumption, the researchers found that in addition to decreases in the volume, roughness and scaling of skin, women’s skin density and skin hydration increased. Beyond aesthetics, the researchers confirmed that drinking green tea rich in antioxidant polyphenols protects against harmful UV radiation.

The researchers concluded, “regular consumption of a beverage rich in tea flavanols contributed photoprotection against harmful UV radiation and helped maintain skin structure and function.”

The structure of green tea’s flavonoids may explain some of the observed beneifts, the authors suggested. Often called antioxidants, these flavonoids may also absorb harmful ultra-violet rays before they can harm the skin’s surface. The researchers propose that it is these antioxidants that  provide  defense for DNA, lipids and proteins that are the primary victims in sunburns.

The sun’s UV rays are a constant threat, particularly during the summer months. Drinking green tea rich in flavonoids, supplementing with green tea extracts, and using green tea extracts topically along with your sunscreen could afford you the greatest level of protection.

Not only can sunburns accelerate skin aging, but repeated and unprotected exposure to UV light can harm cells and compromise your tissues. This study demonstrates that along with using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, consuming a diet rich in plant polyphenols can ward off sun-induced signs of aging and protect you from the inside, out.

Source: Heinrich U et al. Green tea Polyphenols Provide Photoprotection, Increase Microcirculation, and Modulate Skin Properties of Women. J Nutr 2011; 141: 1202-8. doi: 10.3945/​jn.110.136465

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