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3 Must-Have Summer Drinks to Keep Your Skin Looking Healthy

Posted: 08/08/2012 7:21 am

By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., Nutrition Editor, EatingWell Magazine

We’re all spending more time outdoors. And that warm summer sun feels oh-so-good -- until I remember the damage it could be wreaking on my skin: Ninety percent of skin aging is caused by the sun.

Protecting yourself from UV radiation can help prevent premature skin aging. Sunscreen is still 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 two hours). And there’s more you can do -- the latest research suggests that three beverages may also deliver nutrients that protect your skin -- as reported by Hillary Gilson in EatingWell Magazine.

Related: 6 Anti-Aging Foods for Your Skin

Green Tea. New research 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. (Welcome news considering that starting in our twenties, production of collagen -- a fiber that keeps skin firm -- slows and dead skin cells shed less quickly.) According to the 2011 study, powerful antioxidants in green tea called catechins absorb UV light, protecting the skin. (Learn about one ingredient that will boost the health benefits of tea.)

Coffee. That morning 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. (Learn more health benefits of coffee -- plus any cons to consider.)

Related: 9 Tips for How to Make a Perfect Cup of Coffee

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.

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How do you keep your skin looking healthy?

By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D.

Brierley WrightBrierley's interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as nutrition editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master's degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.

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