A whole new meaning to strawberries and cream came about a few days ago when scientists discovered that the scrumptious red berries could potentially be the key active in your sunscreen lotion. This is more than a cute idea, as far as I am concerned. I’m always scouting for big breakthroughs in sunscreen technology that might result in safe alternatives to chemical and even mineral sunscreens, which both have toxicity issues.

Strawberries now join broccoli, grape and sunflower sprouts as candidates for natural sunscreens after a team of Spanish and Italian researchers discovered that an extract from strawberries protects the skin against ultraviolet radiation, increasing its viability and reducing DNA damage.

The study, featured in the Journal of Agricultural Food, exposed human skin cell cultures to ultraviolet light “equivalent to 90 minutes of midday summer sun in the French Riviera.” The most effective strawberry concentration was of 0.5 mg/ml.

Red fruits, flowers and leaves have a specific pigment called anthocyanins. Scientists think that anthocyanins are responsible for strawberries’ photoprotective properties. According to Sara Tulipani from Barcelona University: “These compounds have important anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-tumor properties.” Although she admits that her team has not yet found a direct relationship between anthocyanins and strawberry’s photoprotective properties.

There other good reasons to get more strawberries into your life – apparently they strengthen the red bloods cells and protect the stomach from the effects of alcohol.