The 8 Best Foods for Healthy Hair, According to Dietitians

It's the nutrients, not necessarily specific foods, that you should focus on for healthy hair.

Best Foods for Healthy Hair

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IKYMI, the secret to healthier hair doesn't necessarily involve a mask, oil, or specialty shampoo. While these topical products can improve the look and feel of your hair, the key to hair health may be in your kitchen. Yes, what you eat has a direct effect on the length and strength of your hair.

What you eat affects your overall health — and that includes your hair health. “Your diet gives your hair the building blocks to support healthy hair growth and maintenance,”  says Dawn Jackson Blatner, registered dietitian and author of The Flexitarian Diet. “With the right nutrients, hair can be strong and shiny. If you notice thinning, dry, or brittle hair, it can be a clue that your diet and lifestyle need an adjustment.” Learn which foods to choose to keep your hair in tip-top shape.

What Foods are Good for Healthy Hair?

The truth is, there is not one ’best’ food—or even multiple best foods—for healthier hair. However, there are certain foods that contain specific nutrients proven to be effective in promoting healthier hair. If you incorporate some of the following foods into your diet, you’ll be able to reap the research-backed hair health benefits of nutrients such as biotin, vitamin C, and protein.


Typically touted as an "eggcellent" source of protein, eggs are also rich in hair-strengthening biotin. “Biotin is a nutrient that enhances the production of keratin, a protein that is needed to help keep nails strong and help hair grow,” explains Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D., creator of and author of Read it Before You Eat It - Taking You from Label to Table.

But, there's no need to reach for a biotin supplement. In fact, there is conflicting research that supports the use of biotin as a supplement. Instead, most individuals meet their biotin (aka vitamin B7) needs through a healthy, balanced diet.

Other biotin-rich options: beef liver, salmon, pork


Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that protects hair follicles. Plus, "vitamin C also boosts collagen production," states Taub-Dix, R.D. "Collagen strengthens hair and prevents it from being brittle, thereby breaking easily." Longer, stronger, and thicker hair simply by eating strawberries? Yes, please.

Other vitamin C-rich options: kiwi, broccoli, oranges


Load up on the healthy fats in salmon to keep your hair extra shiny. "Fish, particularly fatty fish, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids — [which are] important for your heart health as well as for your hair. These fats help to keep your hair supple," says Taub-Dix, R.D.

In fact, research shows that the fats in hair degrade over time with exposure to chemicals (like highlights), frequent washing, and environmental factors (thanks, sunlight). Adding healthy fats, like omega-3s, to your plate ensures that your hair will have plenty of fats for optimal shine, strength, and manageability.

Other omega-3-rich options: flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds


Almonds are a hair health powerhouse. "They contain protein and vitamin E which are important for stimulating hair growth," says Taub-Dix, R.D. The healthy fats and protein in almonds have a direct effect on hair growth and strength, while vitamin E, a potent antioxidant, preserves the fat content in the hair and may prevent hair loss.

The vitamin E, healthy fat, and protein in almonds work together to nourish hair follicles and encourage growth, resulting in thick, healthy hair. If you're not a fan of plain almonds, you can always try almond oil, almond flour or meal, or almond butter.

Other vitamin E-rich options: spinach, sunflower seeds, peanuts


It's not a coincidence that avocados are typically used in DIY hair masks. They're rich in essential nutrients, such as healthy fats and vitamin D. Blatner-Jackson explains that the vitamin D in avocados "may create new hair follicles to enhance hair thickness." Vitamin D is typically made in the body through sun exposure, so it's important to load up on vitamin D foods during winter months or times you may not be outdoors as often.

Many hair products on the market now include avocado oil as a key ingredient to promote soft, smooth hair. That's even more of a reason to add avocado to your plate. "Avocados provide natural oils to keep hair feeling supple and to help hair retain moisture," explains Taub-Dix. Dish up some avocado toast or a grain bowl with guacamole for a hair-healthy meal.

Other vitamin D-rich options: swordfish, tuna, fortified plant or dairy products

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are excellent for digestion and glowing skin, as well as strong hair. "Leafy greens, like spinach, contain folate and iron, [which are] important for maintaining a healthy blood supply to your hair," explains Taub-Dix, R.D. Research shows that iron is involved in many processes within the hair follicle, which explains why hair loss is a common symptom of iron deficiency.

It's important to note that leafy greens contain non-heme iron, a plant-based form of iron that isn't as easily absorbed as heme iron (aka the kind in animal foods). Include a mix of heme and non-heme iron sources in your diet to protect against a deficiency.

Other iron-rich options: meat, fish, poultry


If you're looking for one macronutrient that is most important to hair health, protein is likely the answer. Lentils are a great source of dietary protein, which provides structure to the hair. In the body, protein is broken down into biotin, which supports healthy hair, skin, and nails. "Include protein at each meal and snack to keep hair follicles strong," advises Blatner-Jackson, R.D.

Aim to incorporate a variety of protein sources in your diet to get a balance of amino acids, the building blocks of protein (and hair).

Other protein-rich options: eggs, yogurt, lean meat

How to Incorporate Hair-Healthy Foods Into Your Diet

Adding these groups of nutrient-dense foods into your diet can be relatively simple and delicious. There are various sources for each nutrient, so you can find options that you like and that also meet your nutrition needs. Some ideas include:

  • Grain Bowls: Amp up your easy lunch or dinner dish rotation with grain bowls. Choose your favorite base (such as brown rice, quinoa, or barley), add a protein (salmon, lentils, or chicken breast), and dress it up with crunchy veggies, a savory salad dressing, and some salty nuts.
  • Smoothies: Incorporate frozen strawberries, spinach, and almond butter into your favorite smoothie recipe for a healthy hair blend. Transform your go-to smoothie recipe into a creamy, satisfying treat with fresh avocado.
  • Toast: Whip up some avocado toast on sourdough or whole grain bread or slather a slice with almond butter. Want a gluten-free option? Swap bread for a few "slices" of roasted sweet potato.
  • Keep it Simple: Hair-healthy foods like strawberries, eggs, and almonds are easy to snack on without adding anything extra. For a super satisfying snack, halve an avocado, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and eat with a spoon.

If you need individualized meal ideas or support, consider consulting a physician or registered dietitian nutritionist to get a personalized recommendation.

A Note on Accesibility

Many of these foods can be on the pricier side, so it’s always an option to opt for frozen or canned varieties where possible. While it may be an investment, these foods also have benefits way beyond your hair. They’re excellent for disease prevention, optimal digestion, and general well-being.

Foods to Avoid for Optimal Hair Health

In general, all foods fit into a healthy, balanced diet, unless you have specific limitations or allergies. That said, there are some types of food and cooking methods that may not be beneficial for your hair. These include:

  • Fried foods
  • Foods that are very high in sugar (candy, sweets)
  • Foods rich in sodium (processed meats)
  • Artificial sweeteners

Alcohol and tobacco are also two items to avoid. These substances decrease hydration levels in the body and may cause dry, brittle hair.

What Else Can You Do for Healthy Hair?

If you're looking for additional ways to maintain healthy hair, there are a variety of lifestyle choices that you can make.

  • Get Your Exercise In: The benefits of physical activity extend way beyond heart and muscle health. According to Blatner-Jackson, R.D., exercise "increases blood flow which may help stimulate hair growth and reduce stress-related hair loss."
  • Wear a Hat: UV rays may damage your hair and cause dryness. Taub-Dix, R.D. recommends wearing a hat to protect your hair throughout the year.
  • Invest in Quality Cosmetics: Some products on the market strip your hair of its natural oils and nutrients. Do some research and invest in quality products that contain ingredients you feel confident using.
  • Consider a Supplement: Nutrient deficiencies can affect hair health, resulting in poor hair growth and hair loss. In some instances, using a dietary supplement, such as a multivitamin or specific nutrient (ex: iron, vitamin D, or biotin) may be helpful. According to Taub-Dix, R.D., “You may want to proceed with caution when it comes to pills, potions, or powders recommended in compelling advertisements promoting hair growth. If these ads sound too good to be true, they probably are. It’s best to try growing your hair from the inside out with a decent diet and before you try supplements, perhaps consult a specialist.” If you want to invest in a supplement, Jackson Blatner, R.D. recommends a general multivitamin (with minerals) to fill any gaps.

  • Shampoo Less: The purpose of shampoo is to clean the scalp. However, if you wash your hair frequently, you could be stripping the hair and scalp of too much oil, which results in dry, damaged hair. Reduce how often you shampoo. If you exercise and need to take a shower, but it's not a shampoo day, skip the shampoo and opt for conditioner (or water) only.
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