We tend to bombard our hair care routine with every harsh dye, fortifying serum and
leave-in treatment money can buy. But the damage these products actually do to our hair often outweighs the benefits. The secret is starting from the root of the problem and feeding your hair the supplements it needs before you lather up with any topical formulas. Danielle Felip—Holistic Nutritionist and Blogger at the Enlightened Life in Toronto—shares her top hair care tips for growing a glossy mane via the foods we eat.

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Foods to eat for healthy hair

Hair care begins with a trip to the grocery store where you can pick up these nuts, fruits and vegetables for silky tresses without the fuss of reading over product labels at the salon.

1. Walnuts

Avoid fading hair colour and a barrage of root touch-up formulas by munching on walnuts for brilliant hair. “Walnuts contain copper to keep natural hair colour vibrant and rich,” says Felip. Walnuts are also loaded with alpha-linolenic acid—a vitamin that adds moisture to the hair shaft. (No more
anti-frizz products!)

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2. Papaya

Give your hair a vigorous dose of Vitamin C—a vital hair nutrient—with a slice of fresh or dried papaya. “Papaya increases blood circulation to the head and helps to fight the bacteria found on the scalp,” says Felip. “Vitamin C also assists in the prevention of dandruff and encourages new hair growth.”

3. Pumpkin seeds

The high concentration of zinc found in pumpkin seeds stimulates cell growth to
fix your damaged hair and help it grow in thicker. “Zinc keeps the oil glands around your hair follicles working optimally and helps to keep the scalp healthy,” Felip says.

4. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are packed with hydrating molecules and are more energy rich than a white potato—not to mention a great alternative to costly hair serums. “Sweet potatoes promote the production of sebum, an oil substance secreted by hair follicles to keep hair hydrated and lush,” says Felip.

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5. Hemp seeds

Add a few hemp seeds—found at local health and bulk food stores—to your meals to enhance your hair care regime and deter split ends. “Hemp seeds contain Omega-3 fatty acids to boost hair growth, helping hair to grow in faster and stronger,” says Felip. Sprinkle the seeds over salad or yogurt for an extra helping of calcium and iron with a delicious, nutty taste.

Find out what foods to avoid for healthy hair on the next page…

Foods to avoid for healthy hair

Remove these foods from your shopping list to ensure your hair is only receiving the
vitamins and antioxidants it needs to stay lustrous and hydrated.

1. Refined sugars

Sugar is in one word, awful, for your health in every respect, including your hair care regimen. “Refined sugars disrupt the mineral relationships in the body, including calcium, a mineral that affects hair growth,” says Felip. “Sugar prematurely ages us and can make our hair grey.” If you lose the sugar, you can lose the hair dye too.

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2. Lack of protein

Protein is essential to the body and can come from a variety of sources. Vegans and vegetarians should be especially mindful that they are ingesting enough protein to maintain their
natural hair texture. “Hair is mostly made up of protein, so people who do not consume enough may experience hair loss,” says Felip. “Protein does not have to come from meat, so consider lentils, dark leafy greens and tempeh.”

3. Alcohol

If you need a reason to avoid that second glass of bubbly, remember that the ingredients in alcohol are detrimental to your hair. “Alcohol is a diuretic and depletes the body of necessary water and nutrients. This can leave hair dry, brittle and unhealthy.”

4. Artificial sweeteners

Similar to refined sugars, artificial sweeteners are also a poor choice if you want
celebrity-worthy hair. “Artificial sweeteners may cause hormonal imbalance, even though balanced hormones are necessary for strong, healthy hair,” says Felip. Whenever possible, nix processed sweets and opt for a more organic diet.


5. Salt

Too much sugar can spell disaster for your entire body, so save yourself the expense of volumizing hair treatments by resisting that extra shake of salt. “An excessive amount of salt over a long period of time may cause hair to shed and lead to hair loss,” says Felip.

Bonus health tip: The ultimate glossy healthy hair recipe

The final two foods that are valuable to healthy hair are butternut squash and crisp green apples—perfect for baking a nourishing meal at home. “A butternut squash and apple bisque is rich in beta-carotene—an important nutrient for healthy hair because it prevents dandruff and encourages hair growth,” says Felip. Cook this tasty dish tonight for beautiful hair tomorrow.

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