The Hair-Goals Diet: What to Eat for Longer, Healthier Hair
They say you are what you eat. We’d like to get more specific and say your hair is what you eat — literally. Hair is made of a protein called keratin, which your body makes from amino acids supplied by your diet. We don’t need to be experts to know that eating nothing but brownies and candy isn’t going to benefit our hair. (Or skin or brains for that matter.) Longer, stronger, shinier hair begins with what we’re eating not hair products.
“Just like skin, the condition of your hair is an outward sign of overall health,” says Christinah Nicolaisen, co-founder of Eleni & Chris. “The most important thing for hair health is a well-balanced diet of protein, vitamins and minerals that will supply hair with what it needs to remain shiny, lustrous and strong.”
There are certain things you can add to your diet to achieve your #hairgoals. A good general rule is to eat whole foods as opposed to processed foods with vitamins and minerals added back into them per Michelle Blaisure, a certified trichologist and product and technical specialist for Bosley Professional Strength.
Another thing to keep in mind is that eating nourishing food for healthy hair doesn’t give anyone a pass. Scorching your hair with hot tools is still a no-no. We still need to show locks some love and make sensible decisions. Nourishing manes from the inside out is one of the first steps in a healthy hair regimen.
Scroll down to see expert-approved food for healthy hair. Remember this list the next time you’re grocery shopping.
Make salmon a staple for good hair days. Christinah Nicolaisen says it's important to have enough protein to keep hair strong and healthy. Fish contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (hence the name), which boost shine, hydrate scalps and hair follicles and can prevent hair loss. Those who aren't big on salmon can opt for other fatty fish, like mackerel, trout or herring.
It's no surprise that the vegetable would make an appearance on this list given its healthy reputation. Broccoli is one of Nicolaisen's "hair heroes" because it's loaded with essential vitamins and minerals like calcium, zinc and iron. These keep hair strong and encourage growth.
Not into sardines? You might change your mind after hearing how great the oily fish can be for locks. Nutritionist and lifestyle expert Charles Passler, D.C., names sardines as his top pick for a "tasty, healthy hair power food." Sardines are a good dietary source of B vitamins, vitamin D3, selenium and protein, says Passler. They also have nearly 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids in a 4-ounce can. This is key, because omega-3's have been linked to hair growth and reducing hair loss. Sardines on toast, anyone?
Chocoholics will be pleased to hear about this one. Hair care expert and founder of TRUHAIR Chelsea Scott says that dark chocolate is packed with minerals like iron. Iron carries oxygen through red blood cells in the body, which is a key part of hair growth. So go on and have another square. Remember that high-quality dark chocolate is good. A dark chocolate filled with caramel, nougat and topped with white and milk chocolate isn't the same.
Those who haven't replaced the bread in their avocado toast with sweet potato might want to consider doing so, given that a few experts listed beta-carotene-rich sweet potato as a hero hair food. Beta-carotene is a great source of vitamin E, which helps hair look full and shiny, says Scott.
Those eating eggs for breakfast are nourishing their strands. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Julie Russak lists the ingredient as one of the great "everyday" foods for promoting hair growth. Passler says that eggs have zinc, biotin and sulfur-containing amino acids, which have a threefold impact on locks. They boost follicle health and counteract protein deficiencies. Thirdly, biotin is essential in the production of keratin, which is needed for healthy hair and nails. Increase eggs' benefits by combining them with other things on the list in an omelette or frittata.
Dark, leafy greens have a multitude of health benefits. Experts rave about spinach as a great food for keeping hair in tip-top shape thanks to its vitamin, protein, biotin and folic acid content. Don't like the taste? Instead of a spinach salad, try adding a handful into a smoothie (or smoothie bowl). Alternatively, try sautéing it or "burying" it in an omelette.
This might be a tough one for people who loathe liver and onions or anyone who's squeamish about animal entrails. Michelle Blaisure states that people who are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals can have thinning, poor-quality hair. Liver is rich in vitamins A and B. It's also loaded with good-for-hair iron. She suggests looking for organic liver or trying pâté.
Eat more sunflower seeds for bouncy, healthy hair. The ingredient has vitamin E, which protects your scalp from free radical damage. Sunflower seeds have an impressive 10 milligrams of vitamin E per serving, according to Passler. One study found eating sunflower seeds may increase hair growth by as much as 34.5 percent in eight months, according to Passler.
Don't forget about legumes. Nicolaisen lists lentils as being up there with fatty fish and dark greens as a great food for flawless locks. Amber Fillerup Clark, beauty entrepreneur, hair expert and founder of Barefoot Blonde Hair, says lentils are packed with iron, biotin, zinc and protein. She also suggests stocking up on soybeans and kidney beans for better hair.
Here's reason 1,276 to eat more avocados: Blaisure lists them as one of the biotin-rich foods that does hair good. They're packed with nourishing fatty acids, says Clark, and brimming with hair-healthy vitamins, potassium, magnesium and dietary fiber. These properties make avos great for hair masks, too.
Yellow Bell Peppers
These are one of Passler's top five recommendations for healthy hair because of their high vitamin C content. "Hair is made of collagen and almost every stage of collagen production is dependent on vitamin C," he says. "Bell peppers are among the richest food sources of this vitamin." Yellow peppers in particular contain much higher amounts of vitamin C in comparison to red or green versions. In fact, a large yellow bell pepper has a staggering 341 milligrams of vitamin C.
Carrots are another food that's high in vitamin A and magnesium. They're a great option for those who aren't into the idea of liver. Carrots help stimulate the scalp, which can lead to hair growth. (Some people even apply carrot oil directly to the scalp for luscious locks.) Chili peppers and kale are other great veggie options for those looking to up their vitamin A intake, says Blaisure.