The Best Foods to Eat For Healthy Hair

Have you ever watched an ad for shampoo on TV? I mean, really watched it? The beautiful hair on the models is often long, silky and to the average woman, perfect. Women want that hair. So as wishful thinkers, we buy these advertised products, thinking that our hair will see the same results simply due to the hair product. But it’s not that easy. The commercials fail to put a little disclaimer about the fact that—in addition to good genes—the diet of the models as a whole also has a lot to do with that great hair.

QUIZ: How Old Does Your Hair Look?

The fact is, model-status hair takes more than a few squirts of conditioner and styling cream. Before splurging on hair products, consider the impact of eating nutritious foods that protect and nourish the roots of your oh-so-beautiful locks. Just like every other cell in our body, smooth and radiant hair cuticles are fed by the food from our forks. So get ready to really let your hair down when you start consuming my four foods for a fabulous mane.

Canned Salmon

Good for you ingredients: protein, omega-3s (for shiny hair)Last year, I went to my dermatologist in the middle of a Cleveland winter with hands that were raw, dry and brittle. I thought that a great prescription strength skin cream would do the trick. After a quick look at my hands, my dermatologist did write me a prescription, but it was for fish oil capsules. Within weeks, the moisture had returned and the dryness was replaced with glowing skin. Now, imagine your scalp. It’s the same concept. Bottom line: Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp, so getting in more omega-3s will help. What’s a great way to get it? Through canned salmon. It’s cheap, chock full of omega-3s and will protect your heart, too. Throw some in a salad, make salmon burgers or mix with pasta.

MORE: Omega-3s Make Your Mind More Beautiful, Too

Mexican Omelet

Good for you ingredients: protein, vitamins B12, A and C Your cells love protein and that means your hair loves it, too. Protein is needed for both cell formation as well as cell repair. So in order to keep your hair looking its best, focus on high quality protein sources. Eggs are one of my favorites as they are one of the best sources of protein in a convenient, low-calorie package. Throw some bell peppers and spinach in an omelet to boost the antioxidant value of your eggs in the morning—your hair loves those, too!

MORE: Tame Your Hair Troubles

100% Whole Wheat Pasta

Good for you ingredients: zinc, B vitamins The nutrients found in complex carbohydrates are sure to do wonders for your hair. One of the many benefits of eating 100 percent whole grains is that they provide a wealth of important vitamins and minerals including B vitamins and zinc. Zinc plays an important role in promoting cell and hair growth, as studies show that a deficiency in zinc can lead to hair loss.

Spinach with Tomato Sauce

Good for you ingredients: iron, vitamin C This green leafy vegetable is loaded with vitamins and minerals, including iron—an essential mineral for life and for hair health. Iron carries oxygen through the red blood cells, so getting enough of it is essential. A sure way to avoid iron deficiency is to pair iron-rich foods with sources of vitamin C, which stimulates iron absorption. When rich sources of vitamin C, such as tomatoes (and tomato sauce), broccoli, peppers and pumpkins are added to the mix, our bodies are able to absorb more iron. More iron = more oxygen = luscious locks.

COLUMN: Sweet Potato Recipe For Healthier Hair

 Brigid Titgemeier contributed to this article.

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