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Dietitian E-News: An Ally for Skin Health this Summer

As summertime rolls around, clients are looking for ways to look and feel their best. As dietitians, you know that each season brings a reset for healthy eating. Let almonds be your delicious (and nutritious) sidekick for on-the-go snacking this summer!


With summer fast approaching and COVID-19 restrictions easing, 85% of Americans are planning to travel this summer, a survey1 reports. As we seek for ways to look and feel our best in preparation for traveling and while on our journeys, it is key to remember the saying we are what we eat applies to our appearance and our skin, the body’s largest organ.

Protecting the skin from the sun is an important habit to maintain for people of all ages. Some ways to protect your skin this summer include:

  • Use a topical broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 or higher for UVB protection and be sure to reapply often
  • Find the shade! Avoid sitting in the sun for prolonged periods of time, especially during midday hours
  • Get fashionable! Wear a wide-brim hat to shade your face and sun-protective clothing covering your chest, arms, and neck
  • Stick a stash of almonds in your beach bag! Almonds provide skin-friendly nutrients including 50% DV of vitamin E, an antioxidant that may help protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals caused by UV rays from the sun, pollution, cigarette smoke and other environmental and intrinsic factors.
RECIPE: Almond Butter and Jelly Popsicle

Sample Post: Beat the heat with this summertime treat! Try this refreshing #almond butter and jelly popsicle with smooth roasted almond butter and fresh fruit for a nutty-sweet frozen snack.

RESEARCH UPDATE: A recent study investigates the effect on almond snacking on the skin’s resistance to harmful UVB light

A recent study2 showed that regular almond snacking may be one way to help your skin from within and support the other things you already do - like wearing sunscreen – to protect your skin from UVB rays.

In this study of 29 Asian women aged 18 to 45 years old, with skin types that ranged from “burns and does not tan easily” to “burns a little and tans easily,” technically classified as Fitzpatrick skin types II, III or IV, participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups for a 12-week period. The almond group ate 1.55 ounces (42 grams, 246 calories) of almonds daily, while the pretzel group ate 1.8 ounces (51 grams, 200 calories) of pretzels daily.

The researchers measured each person’s skin response to UVB rays – the type of rays known to cause sunburn - at the beginning and end of the study by quantifying their individual minimal erythema dose (MED). MED is the lowest dose of UVB light needed to cause slight skin reddening to a specific site on the skin. (In this case, inner-arm skin was chosen because it has little exposure to the sun.) Skin reddening is the first indication of skin photodamage, so increased MED indicates improved protection against (or resistance to) UVB photodamage.


  • For the almond group, there was a significant increase in MED and in exposure time required to induce erythema at the final visit (12 weeks) compared to the start of the intervention (baseline) (p=.006).  Further, the increase in MED in the almond group was statistically different compared to the pretzel group. 
  • For the women who consumed almonds, there was an increase in MED from 415±64 to 487±59 (18.7±19.2 %,p+0.006) from baseline to week 12 compared to women in the pretzel group from 415±67 to 421±67 (1.8±11.1%). The exposure time to reach minimal erythema (redness) was also increased significantly in the almond group from 160±23 to 187±25 (17.5±22.2%) compared to the pretzel group from 165±27 to 166±25 (1.7±14%) (p=0.026).
  • At baseline, the groups had no significant differences of MED, which indicated the change in MED was due to the almond intervention. Increased MED and exposure mean that a higher dose of UVB light was required to induce erythema (redness) after 12-weeks, compared to the pretzel group.
  • There were no significant differences between the two groups in their ratings of erythema or Allergan Skin Roughness by dermatologists’ assessment. 
  • There were no significant differences in melanin index, sebum hydration or erythema by cutometer reading.
  • The mechanism for the improvement in UV resistance with the almond intervention is currently unknown.  The researchers speculate that the nutrients in almonds (mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, quercetin (a flavonoid), and other phenolic and polyphenolic compounds, may improve the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity of human skin, which could be responsible for the increased photoprotection against UVB light.

Study Limitations: A smaller study population was included than originally planned, due to the exclusion of those participants found to be UVB resistant at the dose and exposure time selected.  This study did not investigate the effect of sunlight exposure in general nor UVA exposure; findings are limited to protection against UVB radiation. This study also investigated a younger population. Further research is needed to investigate the effects of almond consumption for older subjects with moderate-to-severe photoaged skin and for other Fitzpatrick skin types.

Conclusion: A daily snack of almonds (1.5 ounces or 42 grams) improved UVB resistance in young Asian women who consumed almonds for 12 weeks.  The results suggest that including almonds in the diet may help support the skin’s internal defenses against UVB light.

Helpful Resources

UVB Study Handout

This handout provides more information on Dr. Zhaoping Li’s research on whether certain foods, like almonds, can help people maintain healthy skin and strengthen the skin’s natural defenses from within. Furthermore, the handout offers tips to help individuals protect their skin against UV rays.

Skin Health WEBINAR

In this webinar, integrative dermatologist and researcher, Dr. Raja Sivamani from the University of California, Davis, takes a deep dive into the connection between diet and skin health. Furthermore, he explores the latest understanding of the gut-skin axis and shares recent research examining the role of almond consumption on wrinkles.

1. Out of Home Advertising Association of America, 2022.

2. Li JN, Henning SM, Thames G, Bari O, Tran PT, Tseng C-H, Heber D, Kim J, Li Z. Almond Consumption Increased UVB Resistance in Healthy Asian Women. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2021;00: 1-6. https://doi. Org/10.1111/jocd.13946