We all know that a well-balanced diet is healthy for our body and critical for optimal health and performance. Our hair is no different. A mixture of protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and iron are all required for healthy, strong hair.
It’s all about balance when it comes to optimal nutrition for maintaining healthy hair. “Hair is a fast-growing tissue and it’s likely to make demands on your body,” says Brian Thompson, principal trichologist and director of product development at Philip Kingsley Trichological Centre in New York and London. “You need a mixture of protein, complex carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals. But if you consume too much of any one thing, particularly certain vitamins and minerals, you can create problems with hair growth.”
Read on for the 10 top foods that should be the foundation of your healthy hair diet.
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, which promotes a healthy scalp along with good vision. Since a healthy scalp is essential for a shiny, well-conditioned head of hair, you’d be wise to include carrots in your diet as snacks or toppings on your salad.
Low-Fat Dairy Products
Low-fat dairy products like skim milk and yogurt are great sources of calcium, an important mineral for hair growth.
They also contain whey and casein, two high-quality protein sources. For some healthy hair foods “to-go,” try throwing a yogurt or cottage cheese cup in your bag when you head out in the morning to snack on later in the day. You can even boost their hair benefits by stirring in a couple of tablespoons of ground flaxseeds or walnuts for omega-3 fatty acids and zinc.
Oysters may be better known for their reputation as an aphrodisiac, but they can also lead to healthy hair and who doesn’t love that?
The key to their love and hair-boosting abilities is zinc a powerful antioxidant. If oysters don’t make a regular appearance on your dinner plate, don’t despair. In addition to getting it from whole grains and nuts, you can also get zinc from beef and lamb.
Sink your teeth into hearty whole grains, including whole-wheat bread and fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, for a hair-healthy dose of zinc, iron, and B vitamins.
A whole-grain snack can also be a great go-to food when your energy is zapped halfway through the afternoon, and you’ve still got hours to go before dinner.
When it comes to healthy hair, it doesn’t matter whether you like your eggs scrambled, fried, or over easy.
However they’re served up, eggs are one of the best protein sources you can find. They also contain biotin and vitamin B-12, which are important beauty nutrients.
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 contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may help condition your hair.
They are also a terrific source of zinc, as are cashews, pecans, and almonds. A zinc deficiency can lead to hair shedding, so make sure nuts are a regular on your healthy hair menu.
Beans, beans, they’re good for your … hair? Yes, it’s true. Legumes like kidney beans and lentils should be an important part of your hair-care diet.
Not only do they provide plentiful protein to promote hair growth, but ample iron, zinc, and biotin. While rare, biotin deficiencies can result in brittle hair. Blatner, who is also a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, recommends three or more cups of lentils or beans each week.
Dark Green Vegetables
Popeye the Sailor Man didn’t eat all that spinach for healthy hair, but he could have. Spinach, like broccoli and Swiss chard, is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which your body needs to produce sebum.
The oily substance, secreted by your hair follicles, is the body’s natural hair conditioner. Dark green vegetables also provide iron and calcium.
If you have dry hair or just want to prevent straw-like strands drink more. “Hair is one-quarter water,” White says.
He recommends the typical eight glasses a day. Bring a water bottle to work so you don’t spend the entire day refilling your mug at the fountain.
If you don’t have high cholesterol, Thompson recommends eating red meat twice a week for optimal hair health. Not only does red meat have the protein you need, but also B vitamins, iron, and zinc, important minerals for healthy hair.