A healthy diet won't make your hair grow faster or eliminate acne. However, it may help prevent or reduce the effects of alopecia -- loss or thinning of hair -- and prevent oil from clogging your pores and triggering or worsening acne. Although all vegetables are suited to a diet that promotes healthy hair and skin, certain varieties may provide exceptional benefits. For severe or long-lasting symptoms, seek guidance from your doctor.
Bell Peppers for Vitamin C
Eating more antioxidant-rich foods may help minimize symptoms of alopecia and acne, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Red bell peppers are a significant source of the antioxidant vitamin C, providing about 160 percent of the daily value per half-cup chopped, which is more than orange juice and citrus fruits provide per serving. Vitamin C also plays an important role in wound healing, making it easier for your skin to heal from acne-related sores, and it helps other antioxidants in your body duplicate, improving overall immune function.
Soybeans for Protein and Iron
Soybeans are a top vegetable source of protein, providing 29 grams per cooked cup, along with over 4 grams of iron. Getting enough protein and iron is important for healthy hair because a diet lacking these nutrients can cause temporary hair loss. Soybeans also provide an anti-inflammatory alternative to fatty meats such as steak, lamb and fried chicken. This is important because skin symptoms of inflammation, such as dryness, redness and chapping, can result from a diet high in saturated fat.
Winter Squash, Sweet Potatoes and Pumpkin for Vitamin A
Butternut winter squash, sweet potatoes and pumpkin are exceptional sources of vitamin A, providing over 220 percent of the daily value per cooked cup. Vitamin A helps keep skin healthy, and many skin treatment creams -- including those for severe acne -- contain derivatives of the nutrient. Because squash and sweet potatoes can be used to make sweet dishes, such as baked sweet potatoes dusted with cinnamon, they also provide healthy alternatives to sugary foods, which could contribute to acne, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Other Helpful Foods
Eating vegetables rich in antioxidants, iron, protein and vitamin A can enhance the health of your hair and skin, but your overall diet matters most. Aim for a diet based on a variety of whole, nutritious foods, keeping refined grains, such as white flour, and fatty foods, such as fried and processed meats, to a minimum. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends eating healthy fats, such as olive or coconut oil, and consuming whole grains for B vitamins, such as oats and brown rice. Avoid fad diets, which can also detract from hair and skin health, and incorporate antioxidant-rich fruits, such as berries and tomatoes, into your diet.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Hair Disorders
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Acne
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
- Vegan Resource Group: Protein in the Vegan Diet
- Go Ask Alice! Columbia University Health: Losing Hair and Rogaine
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Soybeans, Green, Cooked, Boiled
- Women to Women: Causes of Inflammation
- Linus Pauling Institute: Two Faces of Inflammation
- Health-Alicious-Ness.com: Side-by-Side Comparison: Winter Squash, Pumpkin and Sweet Potato