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Muscadine grapes may help improve skin condition thanks to their antioxidant content. mariiaplo/Getty Images
  • For centuries, red wine has been used for health benefits.
  • Muscadine grapes, used in red, white, or rosé wines, are known to have a large amount of a type of antioxidant called polyphenols.
  • Researchers from the University of Florida have found consuming a small amount of dealcoholized wine made from muscadine grapes daily can help improve aging skin.

For many years now, researchers have discussed and debated the potential health benefits of wine, especially red wine.

Wine has been used medicinally for centuries and some believe it is the first recorded “medicine.”

Previous studies show red wine consumption is associated with protection against heart disease, chronic inflammation, and cognitive decline. And other research shows drinking red wine may promote longevity and increase healthy bacteria in the gut microbiome.

Researchers from the University of Florida recently presented research at NUTRITION 2023 — the flagship annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition — showing dealcoholized wine made from muscadine grapes can help improve aging skin.

For this study, Dr. Lindsey Christman, graduate research assistant in the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department at the University of Florida,and her team recruited 17 women ages 40–67. They were randomly assigned either a dealcoholized wine or a placebo beverage that did not contain polyphenols to drink.

Study participants drank about two glasses of their assigned liquid every day for six weeks. They then took a three-week break and switched to the beverage they had not started the study with for another six weeks.

Researchers measured each participant’s skin conditions and markers of inflammation and oxidative stress at the beginning of the study, as well as at the end of each six-week period.

Upon analysis, scientists found drinking the dealcoholized muscadine wine significantly improved participants’ skin elasticity.

“We were hoping that it would improve elasticity,” Dr. Christman, co-author of this study, told Medical News Today. “Polyphenols in dealcoholized muscadine wine, such as ellagic acid, anthocyanins, quercetin, and myricetin, [may] decrease UVB-induced protease activation. These proteases are responsible for the loss in elasticity — and increase in sagging — often seen with aging.”

Additionally, the wine was associated with a decrease in water loss at the skin surface, indicating the skin had a more effective barrier against damage.

Researchers reported no significant change in the amount of participants’ skin wrinkles during the trial.

And while there were some improvements in skin smoothness and less evidence of inflammation and oxidative stress compared to baseline, there was not a significant difference in these factors when comparing the dealcoholized wine to the placebo drink.

The muscadine grape (Muscadinia rotundifolia) is a species of grape native to the southeastern United States. Unlike other grape varieties, they thrive in warm and humid climates.

These grapes are generally dark purple or black. The juice can be used to make either red, rosé, or white wines.

Muscadine grapes are known to be a major source of polyphenols — a type of antioxidant typically found in plants.

“The muscadine grape [h]as been found to have a unique polyphenolic profile in comparison to other red wine varieties. As a result, the biological activity may be different in comparison to other types of red wines,” Dr. Christman said.

Previous studies have examined the effect of muscadine grapes on certain cancers, including pre-clinical studies using cells from triple-negative breast cancer and prostate cancer.

And a study in mice published in June 2021 suggested that dealcoholized muscadine wine might help alleviate inflammatory bowel disease.

As muscadine grapes can also be used to make alcoholic wine and grape juice, wouldn’t they offer the same benefits? Not necessarily, said Dr. Christman.

“These results cannot be extended to wine with alcohol, as alcohol adds a new variable and may alter the results,” she explained. “In addition, the dealcoholization process may have altered the overall chemical make-up of the wine. For this reason, the results can also not be extrapolated to juice either.”

“However, this study does suggest that muscadine wine polyphenols have (the) potential to improve skin conditions, so there may be a chance of the same results,” Dr. Christman said.

“However, a future study would need to be done with these products in order to confirm,” she added.

Medical News Today also spoke with Dr. Alexis Livingston Young, a dermatologist with Hackensack University Medical Center, about this research.

Dr. Young said knowing what we know about the benefits of eating muscadine grapes, she was not surprised by the study’s results.

“Muscadine wine is a good source of resveratrol, which is a powerful antioxidant,” she continued.

“Muscadine grapes contain more of this compound than other types of grapes, and some of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits. We know that antioxidants are linked to a reduction in free radicals in the body,” she added.

“Free radicals are linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease — as well as cell and tissue damage which can lead to overall aging. So the researchers showed that the antioxidants found in these grapes may indeed promote better skin and reduce wrinkle formation.”
— Dr. Alexis Livingston Young

Dr. Young reiterated that continued research on this topic would be helpful.

“This was a relatively small study, so I would like to see more research using a larger group of participants over a longer period of time. But I do think this is a good starting point,” she said.

The skin covering your body is actually your body’s largest organ.

Skin is comprised of three layers:

  • The epidermis is the outermost layer.
  • The dermis is the middle layer that contains blood vessels, nerves, and other important parts.
  • The hypodermis is the deepest skin layer and contains fat cells.

As we age, the epidermis layer becomes thinner, making it look more transparent. You may start to develop dark age spots in areas of the epidermis that may have had damage from too much sun exposure earlier in life.

Additionally, the connective tissue — called collagen — that connects all the skin layers together begins to weaken. This can cause the skin to start to sag and wrinkle.

Tips to slow down the skin aging process

While it is not possible to stop the aging process, there are steps people can take to help slow down the skin aging process. Tips from the American Academy of Dermatology Association include: