Our favorite foods do more for us than we think. Each food has its own chemical makeup that, when eaten, can do great (or not-so-great) things for our bodies. Matcha, for example, provides the body with natural energy, and almonds promote a good night’s sleep.
If there’s a bodily change you’re looking to make but you’re hesitant to spend time and money on supplements you see on Instagram, don’t worry; all you have to do is eat real food (not sponsored)!
For instance, if you want to keep your hair, skin, and nails healthy and in tip-top shape, there are several foods you can enjoy that will give you beauty benefits.
At any rate, they certainly won’t hurt. Bonus: Most foods that are good for your hair are also good for your skin and nails, not to mention your overall health, so dig in. But always consult your doctor for actual, personally tailored health advice.
Sweet Potatoes (Hair)
I personally can’t resist sweet potatoes. I think they’re such a versatile ingredient; you can cook them with sweet marshmallows or earthy cumin and they’re equally delicious. It turns out sweet potatoes are even more versatile than I thought, since they’re also great for your hair. The beta-carotene in sweet potatoes is a good source of vitamin A, and vitamin A is a godsend for hair. It keeps your mane healthy by speeding up the rate of hair growth, promoting thicker hair, and preventing existing follicles from regressing or weakening. Since one sweet potato contains about four times your daily vitamin A needs, why not start your Sunday mornings with our Sweet Potato Hash recipe? It’s delicious, savory, and your hair (and stomach) will thank you.
Avocados are doubly good for hair growth. First, they are chock-full of vitamin E, which restores follicles and skin on the scalp to ensure growth of healthy hair (so looks like avocados are good for the skin, too). Second, avocados are full of fatty acids, which have been linked to hair growth. This would explain the avocado masks people apply to their hair, but wouldn’t it be better—and cleaner—just to eat avocados instead? Grab a bag of your favorite chips and whip up some of our Easy Guacamole the next time you start freaking out about your hair. If nothing else, you’ll be distracted by how delicious the avocado is.
Greek Yogurt (Hair)
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Packed with proteins needed for your hair to grow long and strong, Greek yogurt is a great food for the hair-conscious. Greek yogurt also contains pantothenic acid, an ingredient found in some hair care products. Pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5, increases blood flow to the scalp and fosters hair growth. B5 is even believed to prevent hair loss, so if you want to keep your locks around longer, indulge in some Greek yogurt. It’s a good ingredient because it can be eaten on its own or as the base of parfaits, dressings, or sauces. Enjoy it alone, or whip up our Jalapeno Cilantro Yogurt Spread that goes great with your favorite veggies (you could always be eating more of those).
Related Reading: Why We Love Yogurt for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Spinach and Kale (Hair)
Dark leafy greens are great if your hair is particularly brittle or straw-like. There is a laundry list of vitamins and minerals in both spinach and kale—vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron, just to name a few—that all work to moisturize the scalp and hair so that you don’t have to worry about split ends. You can incorporate darker greens into your diet by substituting them in your favorite salads. If you need inspiration, start with our Pear and Spinach Salad or Kale and Mint Salad. Both are delicious, refreshing, and great for your hair (and the rest of your body).
Related Reading: The 7 Healthiest Salad Greens You Can Eat | The Ultimate Guide to Kale
Dark Chocolate (Skin)
Yes, chocolate is good for you (in moderation, and if it’s the right kind). Studies found that eating dark chocolate high in antioxidants actually makes the skin thicker, more hydrated, and less sensitive to sunburn. I think it’s safe to officially call dark chocolate a superfood, and now we can enjoy this Dark Chocolate Mousse recipe without feeling guilty. The other great thing about this mousse is that the secret ingredient is avocados, so this dessert is also good for your hair—and it’s vegan, as long as you buy vegan chocolate!
Green Tea (Skin)
It’s no secret that green tea is fantastic for the skin. Green tea contains antioxidants that can repair UV-damaged DNA and fight against skin cancer. It can also reduce signs of aging, irritation, and redness. It hydrates the skin and flushes out toxins by unclogging pores. Vitamin B2 in green tea maintains collagen levels, and the caffeine in green tea is actually a good thing if you’re looking to get rid of those dark circles under your eyes. So, long story short, green tea is probably the best thing you could put in your body if you want healthy skin. It works great as a coffee substitute, or you can make a pitcher of our Pink Grapefruit and Green Tea Drink to sip on every day.
Salmon—or any fatty fish, really—is high in omega-3, zinc, and vitamin E, all of which reduce inflammation and dryness, help produce new skin cells, and work to make the skin more resistant to UV rays. While you can do anything with salmon, I personally am a sucker for the classic salmon-lemon combo. So, for your next date night, I suggest our Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Pepper Butter recipe. Your skin will thank you, and your date will too.
Watermelon is low in sugar, which means it—unlike so many other foods—does not compromise the collagen levels in your skin. It also reduces wrinkles and inflammation—especially around the eyes (this is thanks to the lycopene it contains). So if the skin on your face is your primary concern, I’d definitely start with some watermelon. We have plenty of watermelon salads you can try, but my favorite by far is this Grilled Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad.
Almonds contain both vitamin E and zinc, which are both key to promoting healthy and strong nails. Enjoy almonds alone, in your favorite trail mix, or treat yourself to our Strawberry-Blueberry Crisp recipe with an almond topping for a little bit of extra flavor.
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You read that right! Don’t overindulge here, but wheat-based beers are high in silicon, which does actually strengthen both bones and nails. So a cold one never hurt anyone—especially if your nails are brittle. Crack one open or, if you’re also concerned about your skin, try our Beer and Watermelon Cocktail recipe.
Related Reading: The Best Beer Clubs for Suds Lovers
It’s important to maintain collagen so that our nails stay strong and don’t break easily. Vitamin C and antioxidants contribute to the maintenance of collagen, and blueberries are very high in both. You can bake blueberries into pies, muffins, or pancakes, but I prefer them when they’re fresh and juicy, so I recommend this Homemade Acai Bowl recipe. It contains other fruits, too—that means even more Vitamin C for your nails.
Cucumbers contain biotin, which helps the body metabolize fats and proteins in order to promote healthy hair, skin, and nails. Biotin is absorbed at the very core of the nail for growth, so it is important to keep those levels up. Put your fancy pants on and try our Cucumber and Lemon Sandwiches before your next manicure.
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