Those who want longer, thicker hair know the struggles of waiting patiently for your hair to grow out. You may have bought supplements and fancy beauty products and stayed away from the blow dryer in an attempt to gain a few inches, but there may be one important factor you’re not paying attention to: Your diet.
Certain foods play a role in the health of your hair, and if you’re not consuming the right nutrients, you may not be seeing the results you want.
“Nutrition is an important component to healthy hair,” says Jennifer Glockner, RDN. “Protein and vitamin or mineral deficiencies may lead to flaky, dry scalp and hair loss. The key to having healthy hair is a balanced diet rich in a variety of colorful fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains.”
If you want your hair to grow longer and healthier, you should eat these six foods that contain the necessary nutrients for luscious locks.
1. Greek Yogurt
“Greek yogurt has a high protein content,” says Glockner. “Proteins are the building blocks of cells including keratin, an important component of hair.” Some brands contain up to 20 grams of protein per eight-ounce container, making the dairy product a good choice for strengthening your hair.
Another source of protein, lentils are high in iron, which helps carry oxygen in red blood cells to the scalp and hair follicles, promoting healthy scalp and hair. “In order to improve absorption from plant based iron, it’s important to add vitamin C,” says Glockner. “Try squeezing some citrus juice or have some bell peppers with your lentils.” Other foods rich in iron include other beans and lean beef.
“Asparagus is a great source of zinc,” says Glockner. “A diet rich in zinc may improve hair growth and repair.” Asparagus also contains vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A, all important nutrients for hair.
A study from the journal Dermatologic Clinic found that fatty acid deficiency can lead to hair loss and poor hair quality. Since sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids, they’re a great way to promote hair growth and healthy-looking hair. “Fatty fish including sardines, salmon, and herring may add shine and luster to the hair, as well as hydrate it due to their high levels of omega-3s,” says Glockner.
“Papaya is a great source of vitamin C,” says Glockner. “Vitamin C helps produce collagen, which is a structural protein in hair, resulting in healthy hair follicles.” Other sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, bell peppers and strawberries.
6. Sweet Potatoes
“Beta-carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A, is important for cell growth including hair and skin growth,” says Glockner. “Beta-carotene deficiency may cause dry, flaky hair and skin, and sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene.”