If nutritionists and trichologists are to be believed, your daily haircare regime should start at the breakfast table and not in the bathroom. That’s because hair, like skin, needs to be nurtured from the inside in order to look its best. Here is an expert-approved list of 10 foods that will help you achieve happy, healthy, heavenly hair. So, stock up the pantry and get ready to say goodbye to dull, drab strands…!
Carrots (+ kale, asparagus & pumpkin)
Healthy hair needs vitamin A… lots of it. And the best natural source of vitamin A are carrots, followed by kale, asparagus and pumpkin. All these vegetables not only nourish your hair and skin (remember, healthy scalp = soft, supple hair), they also prevent dandruff. Salad, anyone?
Salmon & Flaxseed
When it comes to beauty foods, it’s hard to beat salmon, which is loaded with vitamin B-12, iron and Omega-3 fatty acids. The latter are crucial for scalp health and a deficiency can lead to dull, brittle strands. Other good options? Mackerel, sardines and herring.
Vegetarian? Include 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed (or 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil) in your daily diet for plant-based Omega-3 fats.
Glossy hair needs optimum levels of sebum – an oily substance in your follicles that acts as a natural conditioner. Fruits high in vitamin C help your body to produce sebum, so load up on those strawberries, oranges and grapefruits.
Popeye didn’t eat all that spinach for healthy hair but he could well have. It’s another great source for that much-coveted sebum while also packing in powerful punches of iron and calcium for hair health.
Beans & Legumes
Legumes (like kidney beans and lentils) provide plentiful protein to boost the thickness and length of your hair. Plus, beans also have iron, zinc, and biotin, which prevent hair breakage. And while rare, biotin deficiencies can result in brittle hair. The American Dietetic Association recommends 3 or more cups of lentils or beans each week.
Do you go nuts for thick, shiny hair? You should. Brazil nuts are one of nature’s best sources of selenium, an important mineral for the health of your scalp. Walnuts, in the meantime, contain zinc to prevent hair shedding. Cashews, pecans and almonds are terrific sources of these minerals as well, so keep them around for those mid-day munchies!
Whole grains – including wholewheat bread and fortified whole grain breakfast cereals – are another heavy hitter on the Healthy Hair Menu. They provide the body with B vitamins, which promote happy strands by boosting your red blood cell count. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the living portion of hair strands and therefore increase your hair’s growth rate.
Low Fat Dairy
Calcium is a very important mineral for hair growth and it can be found in low fat dairy products such as skim milk, fresh cheese and yoghurt. Plus, these foods also contain whey and casein – two major sources of protein. Yoghurt also contains cysteine – an amino acid that detoxes your body and promotes hair growth by actually increasing the thickness of each individual strand. For some healthy hair foods “to-go”, throw a yoghurt pot or cheese wedges in your bag to snack on later in the day.
When it comes to healthy hair, it doesn’t matter whether you like your eggs boiled, scrambled or fried. However they’re served, eggs are one of the best sources of protein you can find. And inadequate protein levels lead to weak and brittle hair, while a profound protein deficiency can even result in loss of hair colour. Besides protein, eggs also contain biotin and vitamin B-12, both of which are important hair nutrients.
Oysters may be better known as aphrodisiacs but they can also lead to healthy hair. They regulate the production of androgens, a hormone whose low levels are associated with hair loss. Plus, there is zinc, a powerful antioxidant that supports the growth of strong, thick hair.
Which hair food is your favorite? Do you have any other “happy hair” recipes?