PHOENIX -- The summer sun and pool chlorine can do a number on your hair. There are a few foods that will keep it looking soft and smooth through the thick of the season.
1. Salmon - When it comes to foods that pack a beauty punch, it's hard to beat salmon. Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, this high-quality protein source is also filled with vitamin B-12 and iron. Vegetarian? Include one or two tablespoons of ground flaxseed in your daily diet for some plant-based omega-3 fats.
2. Dark Green Vegetables - Spinach, like broccoli and Swiss chard, is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which your body needs to produce sebum. The oily substance, secreted by your hair follicles, is the body's natural hair conditioner. Dark green vegetables also provide iron and calcium.
3. Beans - Legumes like kidney beans and lentils should be an important part of your hair-care diet. Not only do they provide plentiful protein to promote hair growth, but ample iron, zinc, and biotin. While rare, biotin deficiencies can result in brittle hair.
4. Nuts - Brazil nuts are one of nature's best sources of selenium, an important mineral for the health of your scalp. Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may help condition your hair. They are also a terrific source of zinc, as are cashews, pecans, and almonds. A zinc deficiency can lead to hair shedding, so make sure nuts are a regular on your healthy hair menu.
5. Poultry - Chickens and turkeys may have feathers, but the high-quality protein they provide will help give you the healthy hair you crave. Poultry also provides iron with a high degree of bioavailability, meaning your body can easily reap its benefits.
6. Eggs - When it comes to healthy hair, it doesn't matter whether you like your eggs scrambled, fried, or over easy. However they're served up, eggs are one of the best protein sources you can find. They also contain biotin and vitamin B-12, which are important beauty nutrients.
7. Whole Grains - Sink your teeth into hearty whole grains, including whole-wheat bread and fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, www.webmd.com/diet/guide, for a hair-healthy dose of zinc, iron, and B vitamins. A whole-grain snack can also be a great go-to food when your energy is zapped halfway through the afternoon, and you've still got hours to go before dinner.
8. Oysters - Oysters may be better known for their reputation as an aphrodisiac, but they can also lead to healthy hair -- and who doesn't love that? The key to their love and hair-boosting abilities is zinc -- a powerful antioxidant.
9. Low-Fat Dairy Products - Low-fat dairy products like skim milk and yogurt are great sources of calcium, an important mineral for hair growth. They also contain whey and casein, two high-quality protein sources.
10. Carrots - Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, which promotes a healthy scalp along with good vision, www.webmd.com/eye-health. Since a healthy scalp is essential for a shiny, well-conditioned head of hair, you'd be wise to include carrots in your diet as snacks or toppings on your salad.
Janet Little is a registered nutritionist for Sprouts. To find a Spouts store near you, check out www.spouts.com.
Sprouts' newest location - Ahwatukee
Grand opening on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 7 a.m.
4711 E. Ray Road, Ahwatukee (85044)
48th Street and Ray Road