9 Best Foods for Hair Growth, Say Experts
From supporting shiny, lustrous locks to combating thinning hair, what we eat plays an important role in our hair health. Healthy hair can also signify overall well-being, indicating that our general nutritional needs are fulfilled. We caught up with doctors, nutritionists, and hair health experts to better understand the relationship between diet and hair growth. We learned that a well-balanced diet is a major driving factor for optimal hair health, and a few key nutrients can make a big difference. So, which foods have the biggest nutritional bang for the buck when it comes to hair growth? Our experts weigh in with their insights.
Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND, author of My Indian Table, explains why eggs are one of nature’s perfect protein sources, especially for hair. “Eggs are a good source of protein and biotin, two important ingredients promoting hair growth.” Biotin is a B vitamin that is critical in producing keratin, the protein that makes up our hair.
Dr. Laura Purdy, MD, MBA, a board-certified family medicine physician, emphasizes the importance of protein and biotin. “Protein and biotin are essential for hair growth,” she explains. Best of all, the small but mighty egg is versatile enough to work for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks and salads.
Avocados are a treasure trove of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects and repairs the scalp, which Sheth explains is the foundation for full, healthy hair. When the scalp is damaged, it also affects hair growth, and vitamin E can be a big boost for repairing that damage.
“Because scalp skin that is damaged can negatively affect hair quality and number of hair follicles, vitamin E can help,” she says. So, by all means, pass the guacamole!
Beans are widely recommended by experts as part of a hair-healthy diet, thanks to their rich nutritional composition. Beans are loaded with plant-based protein and hair-friendly nutrients like zinc, biotin, and iron.
For a quick and nutritionally packed lunch or dinner, certified holistic chef Laura Lea Bryant suggests simple black bean patties — a concoction of beans, oats, an egg, sunflower seeds, cooked brown rice, clove of garlic, salt, and pepper blended in a food processor, formed into patties and grilled. She suggests serving it with plain yogurt, chopped green onions, and sriracha.
4. Sweet peppers
Sweet peppers are a rich and tasty source of nutrients. They’re delicious raw, in salads, grilled or sauteed, and even stuffed. But of course, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and sweet peppers are full of the good stuff — specifically, vitamins A and C. These vitamins support hair health by boosting collagen production and aiding in iron absorption, a mineral essential for hair growth.
5. Lean meats
Dr. Purdy emphasizes that lean meats can greatly contribute to hair health. These include options like chicken and turkey, which are high in protein and provide iron, both of which are necessary for hair growth.
Certified trichologist William Gaunitz adds lean red meat to the mix. “Lean red meat is a perfect superfood for your hair because of its high values of vitamins, iron, zinc, and overall protein supply.”
6. Berries and citrus
Berries and citrus fruits are nature’s sweet treats, but they are also packed with vitamin C, which delivers a powerful dose of hair-friendly nutrition. Vitamin C aids in collagen production, a protein that strengthens hair and prevents it from becoming brittle and breaking. Smoothies and fresh fruit make a perfect healthy snack or breakfast, along with something like yogurt or cheese to incorporate some protein.
7. Leafy greens
Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses high in iron and folate. These key nutrients are not only helpful for hair growth but can also contribute to better overall nutrition, which is associated with better hair health.
“Most green vegetables are packed with anti-inflammatory chemicals and additionally have high values of needed nutrients to support general health,” explains Gaunitz.
Nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, are packed with hair-boosting nutrients like biotin, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
“There are quite a few micronutrients that can play an important role in maintaining healthy hair growth, including iron, zinc, niacin (vitamin B3), omega 3 fatty acids, selenium, folic acid, and biotin,” shares Bryant.
Including just a handful of nuts in your daily diet can contribute to a healthier nutritional intake that supports stronger and healthier hair.
9. Fatty fish
Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital for hair growth.
“Fatty fish are packed with omega-3 essential fatty acids [and] are actually clinically proven to reduce inflammation and support hair growth,” says Gaunitz. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to nourish the hair and support hair density, building beautiful locks from the inside out.
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