15 Foods That Promote Healthy Hair Growth
Strong, healthy hair grows from the inside out, and the foods you put into your mouth have a direct impact on the health of the hair follicles on your scalp. So if you are dreaming of strong, thick and healthy hair, start feeding your hair follicles with foods that promote healthy hair growth! Sound complicated? It's not! Simply pick your favorite foods from the list of the Best Foods to Eat for Healthy Hair Growth below, incorporate them into your eating plan, and watch your hair getting stronger, thicker and healthier!
Popeye was doing something right! Spinach is a great health food, and its nutritional profile makes it an important food for anyone longing for lovely locks. Spinach is one of the best dietary sources of beta-carotene and a great source of folate. It also contains iron which helps carry oxygen to the hair. To maximize the absorption of iron from spinach, add vitamin C rich foods to your meal as it enhances the absorption of non-hemme iron (the type of iron contained in spinach). Spinach also contains vitamin E and vitamin B6.
#2: Black Sesame Seeds
In traditional Chinese medicine black sesame seeds are used to stimulate hair growth and restore hair color. This is not surprising considering that black sesame seeds are loaded with copper and zinc. Copper is essential for the proper functioning of the body, including healthy hair growth. An inadequate intake of copper can cause hair loss and thinning hair. Copper is also believed to intensify hair color and delay graying of hair. Zinc, on the other hand, plays a role in the production of new hair cells and the maintenance of the oil-secreting glands of the scalp that make hair shiny.
Eggs are an excellent dietary source of protein which is a primary constituent of hair. Further, the protein contained in eggs is readily digested and used by the body, which is also why bodybuilders consider eggs the "gold standard" for protein quality. Protein quality is typically measured by two values: Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS), which measures the completeness of a protein, and biological value, which reflects the amount of protein retained from the absorbed protein. Along with soy protein isolates and whey protein, egg whites have the highest possible PDCAAS of all foods. They also score 100 on the biological value, which means that all protein indigested from eggs is used by the body. In addition to providing an excellent source of protein, eggs pack a slew of nutrients known to promote healthy hair growth, including iron, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, folate, and sulphur. With all that and the fact that they taste great too — whether boiled, poached, or scrambled — it is definitely worth including eggs in your diet.
#4: Wheat Germ
Dreaming of strong, healthy hair? Then be sure to include wheat germ in your diet! Wheat germ is packed with nutrients that are thought to promote healthy hair growth. Wheat germ is a concentrated source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), with a mere cup of crude wheat germ providing a whopping 75% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin B6! It is also an excellent source of other B vitamins, including vitamin B9 (folate) and vitamin B2. Moreover, wheat germ is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin E and an excellent source of dietary zinc. It is also a fairly good source of copper. Wheat germ makes a nice, undetectable addition to numerous dishes and baked goods, including breads, salads, cereals, muesli, yogurt, smoothies, and pancakes. When storing wheat germ, keep in mind that it goes rancid fast because of its unsaturated fat content, if not stored properly. To optimize the shelf life of this nutritional powerhouse food, store it in a sealed container in a cool, dry place away from exposure to the sun.
Can't wait to jazz up your favorite smoothies, salads, and yogurt with wheat germ? Check out the article Where to Buy Wheat Germ for tips on how to get the most out of your next wheat germ purchase.
#5: Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are undoubtedly one of the best foods to eat if you want healthy hair with a beautiful, intense color. These mild nutty-tasting seeds are chock-full of nutrients that promote healthy hair. They are packed with vitamin E, zinc, folate, iron, and vitamin B2. They are also a good source of selenium, with one cup providing more than a third of the recommended daily intake. Furthermore, sunflower seeds an excellent source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), with one cup providing 31% of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin B6 is crucial for the proper absorption of zinc from the intestines, but it also has some hair health promoting properties of its own: First, vitamin B6 helps the body produce melanin, which gives hair its color. Second, this important vitamin can help prevent hair loss. In addition, vitamin B6, together with folate and riboflavin, helps form hemoglobin which is needed for transporting oxygen to the scalp. Undisrupted supply of oxygen is necessary for healthy hair. Finally, sunflower seeds are one of the best dietary sources of copper, with a mere ounce of sunflower seeds containing a third of the recommended daily intake for copper.
Rich in both copper and zinc, prunes (dried plums) are a true superhero food for anyone who wants to maintain healthy hair. Although our bodies require only a small amount of copper, this trace mineral is necessary for the proper functioning of the body, including healthy hair growth. Sufficient levels of copper help prevent hair loss and contribute to hair thickness. Copper is also thought to intensify hair color and prevent premature graying of hair. Zinc, on the other hand, plays an important role in the production of new cells (including hair cells). It also helps keep hair shiny. If you are interested in learning more about prunes, check out the page Health Benefits of Prunes.
Eating oatmeal for breakfast is a superb way to start a day off right. Oats are highly nutritious and an excellent source of B vitamins, zinc and copper — some of the most important micronutrients for promoting healthy hair. They are also a great source of dietary protein for vegetarians. Before eating oats, it is advisable to soak them for several hours. Untreated oats, like other grains, contain phytic acid which can block the absorption of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc in the intestines. Soaking allows enzymes to break down and neutralize phytic acid and thus improve the nutritional value of oats.
Beans are wonderfully versatile legumes that come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Yet, they are all tasty and highly nutritious. They should also be an integral part of any hair-care nutritional plan. Beans pack a protein punch to promote hair growth, but they are also a great source of hair friendly vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, and biotin. Biotin is particularly important to people with brittle hair. If your diet is currently low in beans, it is best to add them gradually as they may initially cause intestinal gas.
#9: Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are by far the nature's best dietary source of selenium: a single Brazil nut provides more than the US reference daily intake! Due to their selenium content — combined with their relatively high concentration of vitamin E, copper, and zinc — Brazil nuts are up there at the top of the list of foods for healthy hair. Adding chopped Brazil nuts to your muesli or your favorite salad is a great way to include these nutrition bombs in your diet. When incorporating Brazil nuts into your diet, keep in mind that they are calorie-dense and should therefore be consumed in moderation.
Good news for salad lovers: lettuce is an excellent low-calorie source of numerous hair health promoting nutrients, including beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, and iron. When buying lettuce, it is advisable to choose organically grown produce whenever possible. According to research, conventionally grown lettuce is one of the most contaminated vegetables (in terms of pesticide and chemical content).
#11: Mustard Greens
Chock-full of antioxidants and nutrients, mustard greens can make an excellent addition to your diet if you are aiming at having strong, beautiful hair. Mustard greens are one of the best sources of beta-carotene. What's more, they are also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate. These highly nutritional greens with their distinctly peppery flavor are available throughout the year and can be found in the produce section of your local supermarket.
#12: Chinese Cabbage (Pak Choi)
This green leafy vegetable with Chinese origins has spread throughout Asia and beyond. It is a key ingredient in numerous Asian-style dishes, but the use of this delicious member of the Brassica genus is not limited to purely culinary purposes. Chinese cabbage is loaded with hair health promoting nutrients, including vitamin C, carotenoids, and folate.
Rosemary is a well-known culinary herb. However, few people are aware that rosemary also has a long history as a medicinal herb. It has been used throughout history to treat various ailments, including digestive problems and headaches. Rosemary is also known to improve circulation, particularly to the scalp. When blood flows to the scalp, it stimulates the hair follicles and encourages hair growth. Rosemary also contains rosmarinic acid, a plant polyphenol that can help protect the tissues from free radical damage. Rosemary can be used to flavor fish, roast meats, and tomato sauces, but also fruits, especially oranges.
#14: Sweet Potatoes
Turbocharge your hair health diet by regularly consuming sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are also one of the most nutritious vegetables there is, and they are packed with nutrients that maintain hair health. The pink, orange, and yellow varieties are one of the most concentrated food sources of beta-carotene (the more intense the color, the more beta-carotene), but sweet potatoes also contain plenty of vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, and iron. In addition, sweet potatoes contain unique root proteins which may have significant antioxidant properties.
#15: Paprika Powder
The slew of vitamins and minerals in paprika powder is so comprehensive that a few spoonfuls a day will provide you with more hair health promoting nutrients than many vitamin pills. Paprika is packed with beta-carotene and vitamin E. It is also one of most vitamin C rich spices. Further, it is one of the most concentrated sources of B vitamins, particularly of vitamin B2, vitamin B9, and vitamin B6 (a mere tablespoon of paprika powder provides 14% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin B6). Vitamin B6 helps the body produce melanin which gives the hair its color. On top of all that, paprika contains a substantial amount of iron which ensures that the hair gets enough oxygen.
For more diet-related information and tips on how to maintain healthy hair, see: