This article by Purba, et al, addresses whether skin wrinkling due to sun exposure can be correlated with the food eaten by people in different parts of world. Groups of people were studied in Australia, Greece, and Sweden, with some of the people being born in Greece but living in Australia and vise versa.
The food intakes of the people were evaluated by questionnaire and skin wrinkling was evaluated by a topographical technique. It is known that topical antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, can prevent skin damage and this study was to see if oral antioxidants can alter skin damage. The foods consumed by the people were divided into the following food groups: milk/milk products, meat, fish, legumes, cereal, vegetables, fruits, oils/fats, sugar/sugar products, and alcohol.
The skin is sensitive to damage because of the high exposure to oxygen through its rich circulation and it is also sensitive to light damage. The skin requires light to function; but it can be damaged by oxidation by ultraviolet light, which is called actinic damage. The skin is also sensitive to oxidative damage because of its high content of lipids, proteins, and DNA.
The Swedish people had the least skin wrinkling due to sun exposure. The Greeks were in the middle and the Australians had the most skin wrinkling. Increased age, gender, and smoking status all correlated positively with skin damage.
The Greeks living in Australia who ate the least milk and coffee and the most legumes, mousaka, eggplant dip, garlic, low fat yogurt and polyunsaturated oil had the least skin wrinkling. The Greeks still living in Greece with the least skin damage had the least intake of milk, processed meat, pudding and dessert, and fat spread, such as butter, and the highest intakes of leafy greens, broad beans, and cheeses.
The only fatty acid that was protective against skin damage was monounsaturated fatty acid and zinc intake seemed to be protective. Fish intake correlates with less skin wrinkling and in addition to healthy oils, fish contains antioxidants like carotenoids, Co-Q10, vitamin E and fish sterols.
High intakes of the following micronutrients were associated with a lower risk of photoaging: iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, retinol, and vitamin C.
A recent study from Tufts University identified prunes, berries/strawberries, cherries, and tea as having some of the highest levels of antioxidants.
The foods analysis showed that there might be less actinic damage by more intake of vegetables, olive oil, fish, and legumes and less intake of butter, margarine, milk products, and sugar products. Prunes, apples, and tea contain high levels of polypenols and seemed to show 34% protection from skin wrinkling among Australians born and living in Australia. The six most influential foods were high intakes of vegetables, legumes, and olive oil and low intakes of meat, dairy products and butter.
CONCLUSION: Foods such as vegetables, olive oil, fruit, and fish are associated with less skin damage with aging and ultraviolet damage. Especially beneficial are apples, prunes, and tea. Meat, dairy products, margarine, and sugar products are negatively associated with wrinkling. Dried fruits, apples, and tea were especially beneficial in preventing actinic damage.