Hair, just like skin, is constantly exposed to sunlight, pollution, and other environmental toxins that can damage your delicate strands. This is caused by unstable molecules called free radicals.  

Free radicals bind to hair destroying the cuticle and degrading protein that keeps hair strong and shiny. They can do the same thing to the scalp, preventing the growth of new, healthy hair. When damage from free radicals gets out of control, this leads to a condition called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been linked to faster aging, even for your hair

Hair that has been damaged by free radicals is more prone to split ends, frizz, lack of shine, and even loss of color. But by adding specific nutrients, called antioxidants, to your hair routine you can reverse this damage. 

Antioxidants are protective nutrients that are “anti” oxidative stress. They can be found in food or in products you use directly on your hair. 

Here are five of our favorite hair healthy antioxidant-rich foods that you might want to add to your beauty routine to keep your hair smooth and healthy:

Artichokes

A 2012 study evaluated the impact of antioxidants from artichokes on hair damage caused by UV exposure. Researchers found that antioxidants in artichokes were able to coat hair fibers, prevent damage, and improve fiber integrity. Although this study was based on topical application of antioxidants from artichokes, consuming them in food may help as well. Add artichokes to your diet by slightly steaming them or use the canned version for salads or dips.

Rice

The same study discussed above found that antioxidants from rice were also beneficial for hair strands. Rice is excellent at preserving shine and color of hair exposed to UV radiation. Choose brown or wild rice as a side dish to any meal to add antioxidants and fiber. 

Wild Blueberries

Although all blueberries contain antioxidants, wild blueberries are the best source. These little blue fruits grow in colder climates, which forces the berries to protect themselves by producing more antioxidants. They help stimulate blood circulation and support the growth of new healthy hair. Other berries that may also be beneficial include blackberries, acai, and strawberries.  

Avocados

For hair to retain shine, it needs adequate fat from the diet. Avocados are a great way to boost your healthy fat intake, they are a great source of monounsaturated fats. They are also loaded with vitamin E, which can improve hair growth and scalp circulation. 

Leafy Green Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables are some of the healthiest foods you can eat. That’s because they are packed with antioxidants. Veggies like kale, spinach, and broccoli are loaded with vitamins C and A which help protect hair. Aim to get at least 2 servings of green leafy vegetables every day to protect your hair.

Antioxidants and Hair

Increasing antioxidants in your diet can help protect your hair from damage, but also improve your overall health. The five antioxidant-rich foods discussed above have been found to be beneficial for hair, but this is not an exhaustive list. 

Most fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats have nutrients that can help support hair health. Eating a well-balanced, plant-based diet can help you and your hair look amazing. 

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