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Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

The low-fat diet popularized by Dr. Dean Ornish emphasizes produce, whole grains, and fish. The diet is good for your heart, and it's likely that it can help curb the risk for diabetes. If you stick with the more restrictive eating plan Ornish advocates, weight loss is likely, U.S. News says. Score: 3.0 istockphoto

women's hair loss

(CBS News) When most people think about how the food they eat affects their appearance, bulging waistlines or greasy skin blemishes might come to mind. But did you know what you eat can go a long way to help your hair?

Or more importantly, missing out on these foods might leave your hair brittle and thinning. Dieters especially may be depriving themselves of essential nutrients their hair needs to stay healthy. "When you are on a crash diet, your hair crashes too," Dr. Alan J. Bauman, board-certified hair restoration physician in Boca Raton, Fla., told HealthPop.

Fad diets are typically very calorie-restrictive. This wreaks havoc with hair growth as the body defers nutrients to the more critical body functions. If someone is already at risk for hereditary hair loss, a crash diet might speed up his or her hair loss.

What are the best foods to keep hair healthy? With help from Dr. Bauman, keep clicking to see 10 foods that help keep your locks long and strong...

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

The low-fat diet popularized by Dr. Dean Ornish emphasizes produce, whole grains, and fish. The diet is good for your heart, and it's likely that it can help curb the risk for diabetes. If you stick with the more restrictive eating plan Ornish advocates, weight loss is likely, U.S. News says. Score: 3.0 istockphoto

Salmon

When it comes to foods that pack a beauty punch, it's hard to beat salmon, Dr. Bauman says. 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 to keep your hair strong.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Side of mushrooms and creamed spinach

Dark Green Vegetables

"Popeye the Sailor Man" didn't eat all that spinach for healthy hair, but he could have. Spinach, like broccoli and Swiss chard, is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which the body needs to produce sebum. Sebum is an oily substance that's secreted by hair follicles, sort of like the body's natural hair conditioner. Dark green vegetables also provide iron and calcium which boost hair health.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

One of several varieties of beans to make the list, red beans offer protein and fiber (more than 5 grams per serving!). Kidney beans are also rich in resistant starch; a 1/2-cup serving packs nearly 2 grams of this slimming carb.More from Health.com: Superfoods you need now istockphoto

Beans

Legumes such as kidney beans and lentils should be an important part of your hair-care diet, says Dr. Bauman. 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.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Thumbs up. These naturally occurring substances - found in nuts, seeds, and whole grains - appear to lower cholesterol levels in the body. Manufacturers add them to foods, such as Benecol spread, and put them in supplements. Just how big is the cholesterol-lowering effect? Research suggests that a stanol called sitostanol might lower LDL cholesterol by up to 15 percent, and perhaps boost the effectiveness of certain statin drugs. Stanols and sterols can cause side effects, including diarrhea. One sterol, beta-sitosterol, has been linked to erectile dysfunction and loss of libido. iStockphoto

Nuts

Do you go nuts for thick, shiny hair? You should. Brazil nuts are one of nature's best sources of selenium, an important mineral for scalp health. Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may help condition 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.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Keep raw meat, including poultry and fish as well as red meat, separate from other food. Have a couple of cutting boards - one for veggies and another for meat. istockphoto

Poultry

meat, cutting board, knife, cut, generic, stock"Chickens and turkeys contain high-quality proteins that will help give you the healthy hair," Dr. Bauman says. Protein deficiencies can cause weak brittle hair and extreme deficiency can lead to a loss of hair color. Poultry also provides iron with a high degree of bioavailability, meaning the hair and body can easily reap its benefits.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

A nationwide salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 1,500 people in 2010 put Maine egg farm tycoon Jack DeCoster in the spotlight. His farms crammed birds in filthy cages with reckless disregard for consumers' health, says CSPI. The incident dramatized the need for tougher food-safety laws to clean up the whole food industry. Flickr/kthread

Eggs

eggs, stockWhen 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.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Thumbs up. Dietary fiber seems to help lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, possibly by absorbing fat in the gut. It's best to get your fiber from beans, oats, produce, and whole grains. But Metamucil and other supplements made from blond psyllium seeds husks can also help cut cholesterol levels, as well as ease constipation and soften the stool, and perhaps help control high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, weight control, and kidney disease. Psyllium can interfere with the action of certain medications, so consult a doctor first. Don't confuse blond psyllium with black psyllium, whose use is supported by less scientific evidence and which is more likely to cause choking. istockphoto

Whole Grains

Sink your teeth into hearty whole grains, including whole-wheat bread and fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, for a hair-healthy dose of zinc, iron, and B vitamins.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Before being transformed into a pricey delicacy, oysters lurk on the ocean floor doing what they do best - filter feeding. And if the water they are filtering is contaminated, so are the oysters. (Or they can be contaminated during handling.) If served raw or undercooked, oysters can contain germs - mostly a gut-churner called norovirus and a bacterium known as Vibrio vulnificus - that can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.More from Health.com: When is it okay to eat moldy food? istockphoto

Oysters

The key to oysters' hair-boosting abilities is zinc - a powerful antioxidant that improves hair health. If oysters don't make a regular appearance on your dinner plate, don't despair. In addition to getting it from whole grains and nuts, you can also get zinc from beef and lamb.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

Thumbs up. The "good" bacteria found in probiotic products seem to be helpful in easing stomach upset and diarrhea associated with the use of antibiotics. In addition, probiotics may help ease inflammation caused by H. pylori, an ulcer-causing germ. If you buy probiotic pills, read the label carefully - some products require refrigeration. Another option is to take yogurt labeled as containing "live and active cultures." istockphoto

Low-Fat Dairy Products

yogurt, eat, woman, istockphoto, 4x3Skim 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. For some healthy hair foods "to-go," try bringing along a yogurt or cottage cheese cup. People can boost their hair benefits even more by stirring in a couple of tablespoons of ground flaxseeds or walnuts for omega-3 fatty acids and zinc.

Hair havoc? 10 foods that promote luscious locks

The carrots in this recipe are coarsely mashed with leeks and parsley for a quick, bright dish that sings of spring, even when it's still cold outside. Because the carrots are mashed, not mushed, they're a far cry from the baby food texture that makes so many cringe. Full Recipe at Chow.com Chow.com

Carrots

Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, which promotes a healthy scalp along with good vision. "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," says Dr. Bauman