What made Rapunzel’s hair so long and strong that the prince could climb it? Honestly, we’re not sure, but we’d bet she ate a healthy, well-balanced diet full of omega-3s.
Known as a source of “good” or “healthy” fats, omega-3 fatty acids are comprised of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and can come from marine animals (mainly fish) and algae, as well as plant-based sources like flaxseeds and walnuts that contain ALA (alpha-linolenic acid).
As we cannot make omega-3s on our own, they are referred to as essential fatty acids (EFAs); we need to eat them in order to obtain their nutritive value and benefit.
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Beauty Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids demonstrate a plethora of health benefits to organs throughout the body — including the heart, brain, eyes, and skin, to name a few — along with providing support for a healthy inflammatory response, which aids in keeping hair healthy.
These EFAs have also been associated with a healthy aging process. The DHA constituent is a main part of all cell membranes and is found significantly in the retina (a component of the eye) and brain. With such vast and seemingly positive assistance within our system, it is not surprising that omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful in hair health as well.
Eating delicious, omega-3-rich foods may provide nutritive support to further enhance your luscious locks. Below, some of our favorite EFA-filled foods to add to your daily diet.
No. 1: Avocados
Avocados are more than a tasty treat — they’re practically a lifestyle. The avocado (Persea americana) is a nutrient-dense fruit containing the plant-based omega-3 ALA. Rich in fiber and healthy fat, avocados also contain a number of vitamins and minerals. And unlike other fruits with fair amounts of sugar, this little baby only packs about 0.2 grams of the sweet stuff.
The avocado is a great addition to any meal — whether savory or sweet. Use it in salads, sandwiches, and smoothies, or mash it up into guacamole. You can even use avocados to make dairy-free chocolate pudding.
No. 2: Salmon
This flavorful, oily fish comes fully loaded with EPA and DHA, along with protein and vitamins. The American Heart Association recommends consuming two or more servings of fish per week, with each cooked serving being 3.5 ounces.
And with each savory bite, your hair will thank you: The oils in nutritive, fatty salmono can help nourish the scalp, decrease hair dryness, boost shine, and lessen breakage. To boot, salmon’s proteins and vitamins, such as vitamin D, help provide important building blocks to support overall hair health. So go ahead and make salmon your “catch of the day.”
No. 3: Chia Seeds
Often touted as a superfood, this ALA-filled, plant-based omega-3 fatty acid seed is actually a member of the mint family. Chia (Salvia hispanica) has been utilized for thousands of years, notably by the pre-Columbian Aztecs as well as the Mesoamerican Indian cultures.
Containing fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and protein, this gluten-free seed also boasts minerals and vitamins (mostly Bs) and is known to provide support with a healthy inflammatory response. With all of these healthy accolades, it’s no wonder these little seeds can now be found in every grocery store across the country. Altogether, the nutritive elements of chia seeds assist in making it a nice supportive piece to overall hair health.
The Bottom Line
You are what you eat and your hair is no exception: Nutrient deficiencies can stem from insufficient intake of vitamins, minerals, protein, and EFAs, which can be a contributing factor to poor hair health.
Many omega-3 fatty acid rich foods have a combination of all of these nutritional elements in them, supporting the importance of these foods to hair health. Further, various studies have commented on the consequence of an exaggerated inflammatory response and fibrosis related to poor hair health.
Given the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to support a healthy inflammatory response, they in turn may help support overall hair health. In its entirety, diets low in healthy fats can lead to dryness of hair, skin, and nails. So isn’t it time you chewed the “healthy” fat?