Top 10 foods for healthy hair

Like every other part of your body, the processes that support strong and vibrant hair are reliant on a balanced diet. Of course, there’s more to your hair than what you eat – smoking, hormonal imbalances and poor sleep habits can also have a negative impact on hair health. However, if you eat a well-balanced, protein-rich diet which includes the following foods, you’ll be giving your hair the best chance of staying healthy.

1. Salmon

Salmon, particularly wild salmon, is rich in protein and vitamin D – both important for healthy hair. However, it’s the omega-3 fatty acids found in this cold-water fish which make it truly great for hair health, as around three per cent of the hair shaft is made up of these fatty acids. Omega-3s are also beneficial for the natural oils which keep your scalp and hair well-hydrated.

Alternatives: herring, sardines, trout, mackerel, avocado, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.

2. Walnuts

Walnuts contain a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids and they’re also quite rich in biotin and vitamin E, which help to protect your cells from DNA damage, as well as from the effects of the sun. Furthermore, increasing your intake of biotin can help to prevent hair loss. Walnuts also contain copper – an important mineral which maintains your natural hair colour and lustre.

Alternative: walnut oil as a replacement for canola or safflower oil.

3. Oysters

Oysters are super-rich in zinc. Low levels of zinc in your diet can cause a dry, flaky scalp, and even lead to hair loss. Oysters also contain a good amount of protein, without which your body wouldn’t be able to replace the hairs which you naturally shed every day.

Alternatives: nuts, beef, whole grains, fortified cereals and eggs.

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4. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great source of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A – an important vitamin for every cell in your body. Vitamin A can also help protect and produce the oils which sustain your scalp. Being low on vitamin A can leave you with itchy, annoying dandruff.

Alternatives: carrots, cantaloupe, mangoes, pumpkin, and apricots.

5. Eggs

Apart from being a great source of protein, eggs are loaded with zinc, selenium, sulphur and iron. Iron helps cells carry oxygen to the hair follicles, and too little iron is often a major cause of hair loss, especially in women.

Alternatives: chicken, fish, pork, and beef.

6. Spinach

The iron, beta-carotene, folate, and vitamin C in spinach can help to keep your hair follicles healthy and your scalp oils circulating. It’s also best to eat spinach raw, as heat can diminish its nutritional value.

Alternatives: broccoli, kale, and Swiss chard.

7. Lentils

Legumes are bursting with protein, iron, zinc, and biotin, which make them a great alternative source of protein for vegetarians and vegans, as well as meat eaters.

Alternatives: soybeans and kidney beans.

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8. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is high in hair-friendly protein, vitamin B5 and vitamin D. Recent studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D may contribute to increased hair loss and reduced hair follicle health.

Alternatives: cottage cheese, low-fat cheese, and skim milk.

9. Blueberries

Blueberries are a nutrient superhero. Blueberries are so rich in phytonutrients that even though they don’t contain the antioxidant vitamin C, they still provide as much antioxidant protection to the body as more than 1200 milligrams of vitamin C. When it comes to hair health, the ‘C’ stands for critical for scalp circulation, which supports the tiny blood vessels that feed the follicles. Too little vitamin C in your diet can lead to weak, easily-damaged hair.

Alternatives: kiwi fruit, sweet potatoes, papaya, tomatoes, and strawberries.

10. Poultry

Chicken is packed with protein, as well as zinc, iron, and B vitamins, which all contribute to maintaining healthy hair. Hair is mostly comprised of protein, so it goes without saying that foods rich in protein are super-beneficial for hair.

Alternative: lean beef.

Rosemary essential oil

You can’t eat rosemary essential oil, however, it can still be used to increase circulation to your scalp. Simply add a few drops to your shampoo when you wash your hair, or use a few drops of rosemary oil and massage your scalp regularly.

Alternative: coconut oil.

For further information, go to WebMD.

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.