11 Foods To Eat To Keep Your Hair Looking And Feeling Healthy AF

by Julia Guerra

I know I can't be the only one who's watched those Pantene commercials enviously from the couch.

All of a sudden, I'd find myself running my fingers through a few of my own #basic strands and think, "Maybe she's born with it."

Maybe she's born with it.

Or maybe she just has a team of stylists blow drying and curling each and every off-centered strand between takes.

Or maybe she works for it.

If you're going to the gym four to six times a week, but disregarding healthy meals in favor of greasy take-out and processed sugars, are you actually practicing a healthy lifestyle?

It's the same deal with hair care.

There's more to healthy, gorgeous locks than finding the right shampoo and conditioner (which, I know, is a struggle all its own).

It's a combination of what your scalp and strands are absorbing topically, and what the body is digesting internally that determines how long, strong, and shiny your strands are.

Like muscles, strong, healthy hair is made in the kitchen. Here are a few foods you should be incorporating into your diet for lengthy, shiny strands.

1. Salmon

Once I started substituting animal proteins like beef and chicken for fish, there's been a visible difference in my hair's strength and shine.

Salmon, one of my favorites, is high in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and protein – all of which support a healthy head of hair and scalp.

Make a meal out of the nutrition-packed fish once or twice a week, and you're sure to notice a gradual difference.

2. Sunflower Seeds

Perfect for afternoon snacking or tossing into a leafy salad, sunflower seeds are easy to implement into every menu for an extra helping of vitamin E, which will stimulate blood flow to the scalp.

3. Sweet Potato

From sweet potato fries, to smoothies, to breakfast bowls, coins, and so much more, the many ways to add sweet potato to any meal or snack are endless.

Besides being a delectably sweet treat for your taste buds, the colorful spud does great things for your hair.

Rich in beta carotene, which translates to vitamin A when digested, not only do sweet potatoes speed up hair growth, it improves oxygen circulation to hair follicles through the scalp.

4. Almond Butter

I love nut butters, and though I've been pro-peanut-butter since my mom set a dish in front of me with a generous scoop and apple slices, I might have to start switching it up in the name of hair health.

One serving of almond butter is full of vitamin E, a key component to generating thick, long hair.

Top a small to medium sweet potato with a liberal dollop to get your dose at breakfast, or chop up some banana slices and dip at snack time.

5. Greek Yogurt

Considering you can pretty much substitute Greek yogurt for everything these days, it doesn't surprise me that its health benefits also factor into hair health.

High in protein and vitamin B5, your favorite afternoon snack strengthens strands and stimulates blood flow to the scalp, encouraging hair growth for days, baby.

6. Chocolate Cake

Breaking! You can have your cake and healthy hair too.

This flour-less alternative from Heal With Food is made with black beans and cocoa powder for a low-cal, low-fat treat that's incredibly decadent and nourishing.

Beans really are a magical fruit, especially for hair growth, due to its high protein content.

Dark cocoa powder is rich in antioxidants, as well as copper and iron, all of which strengthen weak strands.

7. Oatmeal

That thick and fluffy consistency you expect from your daily bowl is exactly the texture your ideal head of hair should be.

Oats contain a ton of iron, fiber, zinc, omega-3s, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, all of which contribute to luscious strands.

I know what I'm having for breakfast tomorrow.

8. Walnuts

When you hear the term "sun damage," you probably picture skin burns first, but hair can be just as compromised by UV rays, too.

Walnuts are comprised of nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E that work to protect each strand from sunlight, all while enhancing its natural shine.

Consider one serving the equivalent of sunscreen for your hair.

9. Kiwi

Amazing in salads or paired with whipped cream for dessert, kiwis are a key source of vitamin C, which is fantastic for your hair follicles.

10. Avocado

Is there anything related to health and beauty that an avocado can't solve?

The ever-popular good-for-you fat offers twice the amount of potassium in one banana, is loaded with antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, and folate, all of which make this game-changer an essential for your hair and overall health.

11. Lentils

My husband once made me a bowl of lentils and rice for dinner with delicious spices and herbs.

It's a basic meal in comparison to all the fancy things you can create with legumes (like lentil soup, tacos, and chili).

But little did I know that, in addition to being a significant source of protein, one serving also contains a fair amount of iron which, together, support a full head of hair.