While shampoos, conditioners, and other hair care products can make a huge difference to the health of your hair, nothing quite compares to keeping your hair nourished from within. A poor or improperly balanced diet will not only reflect itself in your skin, but your hair too. Likewise, a good diet, especially one containing the following 11 foods, will give you hair a thickness and shine that you can be proud of.
Just about every hair expert out there will tout the importance of eggs, and there really is so much truth behind this.
Eggs are a great source of protein and biotin. Both of these nutrients are key when it comes to hair growth. In fact, a deficiency can actually lead to hair loss!
Eggs are also a good source of other hair-boosting nutrients, such as selenium and zinc. Just remember – always go for free range! These contain a richer amount of those all-important nutrients, and are a much kinder way to shop.
Salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, ones that the human body cannot produce. These fatty acids are essential for a number of body functions, including, you guessed it, maintaining healthy hair.
Omega-3 fatty acids are actually exceptionally moisturizing. Eating more salmon hydrates and softens the skin, not only on the face and body, but on the scalp too. This, in turn, nourishes the hair, leaving you with a healthier shine.
As mentioned, quality protein is great for the hair, and you’ll find this in yogurt. However, the main reason why unsweetened yogurt is such a hair booster is because of its vitamin B5 content.
Vitamin B5 is also known as panthothenic acid. Take a look at the ingredients lists on some of your hair care products, and you’ll probably spot this one printed several times.
What’s so great about vitamin B5/panthothenic acid?
It increases blood flow to the scalp. This then helps to carry more nutrients and oxygen to the scalp, increasing hair growth and improving hair health. In fact, some studies also suggest that vitamin B5 is able to help prevent hair thinning and hair loss.
Dark Leafy Greens
It’s common knowledge that leafy greens are so important for overall health, but did you know that they play a crucial role in the health of your hair too?
Let’s begin with their iron content…
Dark leafy greens are one of the best plant-based sources of iron out there. So, if you don’t eat meat, listen up:
Iron helps your red blood cells in carrying oxygen around your body, including to your scalp. This is vital when it comes to hair growth and repair.
Iron deficiencies are common. However, when the body isn’t getting enough iron, oxygen and nutrients don’t make it all the way to the scalp, being used up by other parts of the body first. Hair roots and follicles suffer, as does hair growth and strength.
In addition to iron, dark leafy greens are also full of several other important nutrients, such as:
- Vitamins A, B, C, and K
Wondering which leafy greens are the best?
The darker the better, as this indicates a higher nutrient content. Some greens to try include:
- Swiss chard
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
Have you heard of beta-carotene?
It’s the compound that gives sweet potatoes their vivid orange color. When you eat beta-carotene, your body converts it into vitamin A – now that’s something that you probably have heard of before!
Vitamin A is an all-important vitamin for both the skin and the hair. Not only does it encourage your hair to grow faster, longer, and thicker, but it also helps to prevent hair breakages. A deficiency of vitamin A will soon lead to dull, dry, and thinning hair.
Vitamin A helps with the scalp too. It keeps the skin here healthy, preventing dandruff and other scalp issues from arising.
Beta-carotene is so essential for hair health that it is often sold in multivitamin supplements designed for healthy hair. However, it’s always better to go for the whole-food option instead of vitamin A in pill form.
Because too much vitamin A has the opposite effect on your hair. Excessive quantities of the vitamin can actually lead to hair loss, which is why it’s always best to eat it in whole food form, rather than risking supplements.
Sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of beta-carotene out there. However, if you can’t stomach the taste, then a few other good sources are:
- Winter squash
Basically, any fruit or vegetable that is red or orange in color will contain beta-carotene, so start adding more of those colors to your plate!
Ok, by now, you know about the importance of:
- Omega fatty acids
Well, guess what?
Walnuts contain them all! In fact, in addition to omega-3 fatty acids, you’ll also find omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, plus a good heaping of copper and vitamin E too.
Walnuts are such an easy food to snack on while on-the-go, making it a simple task to incorporate more walnuts into your diet!
Avocados have been in the spotlight quite a bit recently. This superfood is exceptionally nutritious. It contains such a wide range of different nutrients, such as essential fatty acids, which were discussed above.
However, where avocados really shine is in their vitamin E content.
Vitamin E acts as a powerful antioxidant. It neutralizes any oxidative stress that is taking place in the body, which would have otherwise been detrimental to the health of your hair.
Well, oxidative stress damages the skin on the scalp. In return, this then leads to poor hair quality, fewer hair follicles (meaning thinner hair), and a number of scalp problems, such as dandruff.
Studies have found that vitamin E supplements taken by those dealing with hair loss can actually increase hair growth by 34.5%!
Of course, for those experiencing serious hair loss, supplements are beneficial for overcoming the problem. At this stage, your body needs a little more help than what whole foods can provide, especially if you are trying to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
However, for everyone else looking to simply give their hair a boost, avocados are the answer.
Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that intensive avocado production has been linked to several environmental problems, including the loss of biodiversity, soil degradation, and extreme weather fluctuations.
Just two small avocados has double the carbon footprint than 1kg of bananas.
So, what can you do about this?
For starters, don’t go overboard when it comes to eating avocados. Yes, they may be fantastic for your hair and overall health, but, as you can see from this list, so are many other foods. Balance and moderation are key.
You can also choose to only purchase avocados that have been grown in a sustainable way. They may still come with a high carbon footprint, but at least you won’t be contributing to environmental destruction.
Also known as coriander, cilantro is a herb that people tend to either love or hate. If you’re in the love camp, then this is great news for your hair…
Often referred to as a super herb, coriander is:
It is packed with a large number of vitamins and antioxidants, many of which can significantly help your hair. Take vitamins A, C, and K, for example. You’ll find these in high amounts in coriander, and all of them help to strengthen hair roots to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss.
Toxins are something else that can contribute to unhealthy hair. However, cilantro’s detoxifying properties encourage the body to flush out its toxins at a much greater rate. This then prevents those toxins from affecting your hair, along with the rest of your body.
Citrus Fruits and Berries
Everyone knows that fruits are literally bursting with vitamins and antioxidants. As mentioned, these all do great things for the hair.
However, there’s one vitamin in particular that you need to be extra aware of…
Vitamin C is often touted as a must-have for overall health. This is the vitamin that people turn to when they are experiencing ill-health. In addition to giving the body a boost, vitamin C is also vital when it comes to the health of your hair.
Remember how we mentioned that iron is a must for keeping your hair healthy?
Well, in order for your body to absorb the iron from the foods that you eat, it needs the help of vitamin C.
The human body cannot produce or store vitamin C on its own, making it so important that you’re getting enough from the food that you eat.
What happens to your hair if you aren’t getting enough vitamin C?
Signs of a deficiency include:
- Hair shedding
- Dry hair
- Brittle hair that breaks easily
One thing to note…
Even if you are eating plenty of vitamin C, there are certain lifestyle habits that can actually deplete the amount of the vitamin in your body. To prevent this, avoid the following:
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Eating disorders
Now, there are numerous food sources of vitamin C out there, but citrus fruits and berries are among the best. Ideally, try to incorporate a variety of these into your diet. This will ensure that not only are you absorbing plenty of vitamin C, but your hair will also be able to benefit from all of the other powerful compounds within different fruits too.
If you’ve been searching for something healthy to snack on during the day, give pumpkin seeds a try.
Because evidence points towards pumpkin seeds being able to affect hair health.
The exact mechanisms of this are still relatively unknown. Studies are in their early stages, and pumpkin seeds alone have not been extensively researched in connection to the hair.
However, some experts believe that the hair boosting benefits of pumpkin seeds come from the oil within each seed. The oil contains compounds called phytosterols. These work by blocking specific hormones and enzymes in the scalp, preventing them from causing hair loss.
For this reason, many choose to purchase pure pumpkin seed oil, adding this to their diet instead of the seeds themselves.
Pumpkin seeds also contain cucurbitin, which is a type of amino acid. The body uses amino acids to create proteins, and, as you know, protein is a must for healthy hair.
Not only are beans a fantastic plant-based source of protein, but they also contain high amounts of zinc. Just a small serving of black beans, for example, gives your body 7% of its daily zinc requirements.
What’s so great about zinc?
It’s a must-have for both hair tissue growth and hair repair. Zinc also plays an important role in keeping the oil glands in your scalp functioning properly. Without enough zinc, your oil glands won’t be able to produce enough oil, leaving your hair dull, dry, and lacking.
All beans contain high amounts of zinc, but some of the best varieties include:
- Black beans
- Garbanzo beans
- White beans
- Navy beans
Other nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, and cashew nuts, also contain zinc in high quantities, making these great additions to your diet too!
People don’t often consider how their dietary choices affect the health of their hair, but the two are linked very closely. While certain foods, such as those high in unhealthy sugars, lead to hair problems, others, such as everything mentioned on this list, can turn things around, giving you a full, strong, and glossy head of hair. What more could you want?!