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Strawberries Could Help Protect Against Damage From Ultraviolet Radiation, Cell Study Suggests

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Besides being chock full of essential nutrients like vitamins A, C and B, new lab research suggests strawberries might also, in the future, play a part in protecting against dangerous UV rays.

Spanish and Italian researchers found that putting strawberry extract on skin cells helped to protect the cells from UVA damage.

The researchers speculated that the protective powers may lie in strawberries' anthocyanins (previously linked with a decreased diabetes risk), which are what make strawberries red.

"These compounds have important anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-tumour properties and are capable of modulating enzymatic processes," study researcher Sara Tulipani of the University of Barcelona, said in a statement. However, "we have not yet found a direct relationship between their presence and photoprotective properties."

"At the moment the results act as the basis for future studies evaluating the 'bioavailability' and 'bioactivity' of anthocyanins in the dermis and epidermis layers of the human skin, whether by adding them to formulations for external use or by ingesting the fruit itself," Tulipani added.

In the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry study, researchers added strawberry extract in different doses -- 0.05 milligrams per milliliter, 0.25 milligrams per milliliter and 0.5 milligrams per milliliter -- to skin cell cultures. They also had a control extract added to the skin cell cultures.

Then, the researchers exposed those skin cell cultures to ultraviolet light that is equivalent to 90 minutes of mid-day sun in the summertime.

The study authors found that adding the strawberry extract, especially at the highest dose, to the skin cell cultures seemed to help decrease DNA damage and help to preserve the cells' survival, compared with the controls.

It's important to note that the findings are only in skin cell cultures, and not in actual humans -- more research will be needed to tell if strawberries will actually be viable as a skin protectant (and in what form).

But in the meantime, here's what we do know from dermatologists about protecting our skin from ultraviolet rays:

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