vegan foods hh

Image: Getty Images

The popularity of veganism is growing exponentially every year. Proponents cite a love for animals, a desire to help the environment, and a need to resolve health issues as reasons for choosing a plant-based lifestyle. Well-planned vegan diets that center around whole foods are associated with many health benefits including improved cardio-metabolic markers, lower BMIs, and more stable blood sugar levels. Your doctor or a nutritionist can guide you if you are thinking of making the switch to this or any new diet so that you can ensure you are giving your body everything it needs. Adding these ten vegan foods to your diet as well will help promote the health of your hair.

Algal oil

You can find this algae-derived, omega-3 powerhouse oil in a variety of vegan fish and shellfish substitutes and in supplements. It is also a neutral cooking oil. Omega-3 helps to reduce inflammation, nourish hair follicles, and encourage longer, stronger hair growth. Additionally, algal oil contains key nutrients including iodine which promotes thyroid health.

Hemp seeds

Just a few teaspoons a day of these super-seeds sprinkled on your morning oatmeal, on salads, or whirled into your favorite smoothie can provide you with lots of hair-building protein. They contain vitamin E, zinc, and other vitamins your scalp needs to be healthy. They also provide the optimal ratio of omega 6: omega 3 fatty acids, too. While whole hemp seeds contain soluble fiber, the shelled versions (e.g., Hemp Hearts) are nuttier and milder.

Almonds

Almonds are high in vitamin E and magnesium. Vitamin E nourishes the scalp and helps to keep it supple. Magnesium is crucial for hair strand health and growth, and can also help reduce the risk of scalp calcification.

Image: Getty Images

Leafy Green Vegetables

Leafy greens such as kale, collard, mustard, and micro greens, swiss chard, cabbage, and broccoli should be a staple for every vegan. They are cram-packed with nutrients, anti-oxidants, and fiber. Some crucial hair-helpful vitamins they contain are iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Iron carries oxygen to the hair follicles, vitamin A helps to create sebum, and vitamin C protects the hair from destructive free-radicals.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional Yeast, or nooch as it is lovingly referred to in the vegan community, is a savory seasoning that is full of B vitamins that are otherwise difficult to obtain through other foods and supplements. It has a cheesy flavor, and for that reason it is often used in sauces and savory dishes (I like to sprinkle it on plain popcorn, along with a little sea salt). It can help relieve stress, which is associated with some forms of hair loss.

Legumes

If you want strong hair, you need adequate amounts of protein. Legumes are protein-packed gems. There are loads of choices of legumes, too: lentils, beans, and even hummus can help you meet your daily protein needs.

Pumpkin Seeds

This once-humble snack is now on every healthy-foodie hotlist. Besides providing important nutrients for hair growth, they also contain beta-sitosterol which quells the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme. This enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, which is implicated in pattern hair loss.

Acai

In California, you can (almost) find an acai bowl on every corner. Flavor-wise, acai is kind of like a strawberry in a bad mood. However, acai has loads of benefits for the hair and skin, which include protecting against free-radicals, reducing scalp inflammation, and nourishing the hair.

Raw Cacao

Not to be confused with cocoa, raw cacao is a bitter powder that is rich and magnesium and other nutrients, the most important of which is sulfur. Sulfur can help to nourish and invigorate the hair follicles, which encourages healthy hair growth.

Avocados

We love them, and they love us back. Whether mashed into guacamole, sliced onto a salad, or blended into a batido, avocado is rich in fatty amino acids. It can help your hair retain its moisture. Avocados prove that healing foods are delicious.

What are your favorite vegan foods for hair health? Let us know in the comments. For great vegan hair care products to try, click here.