You won't find any superfood that makes cuts heal faster, but your diet has a big role in the healing process. Optimal repair of wounds with minimal scarring depends on specific nutrients. The Cleveland Clinic refers to a variety of foods as power foods to help with wound healing. These foods are rich sources of the nutrients essential for rebuilding tissues: protein, zinc, iron, and vitamins A and C.
No one food can magically heal your cuts and scars, but a diet filled with nutritious foods, including plenty of protein, vitamins A and C, iron and zinc, is integral to the healing process.
Get Plenty of Protein
Proteins are essential for rebuilding damaged skin, collagen and blood vessels. In fact, lack of protein hinders healing, while getting an adequate amount helps mend your cuts at an optimal rate. If you suffer a major injury, have a slow-healing wound or have surgery, you may need more protein than normal, but that decision should be made with your health care provider. Lean meat, poultry, fish, soybeans and beans contain the most protein, followed by low-fat dairy products and eggs.
Vitamin C Is Essential
Cuts heal in a step-by-step process that begins with a foundation of collagen. After a collagen grid is formed, new skin grows in from the edges of the cut, using the collagen for support until it meets in the middle. Collagen is made from protein, but its production depends on the presence of vitamin C.
Citrus fruits and juices are top sources of vitamin C. Other good sources include strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, baked potatoes, broccoli, spinach, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
Vitamin A Boosts Healing
If you don't have enough vitamin A in your diet, the healing process may be impaired. This vitamin boosts the initial inflammatory response, which is important because inflammation at the beginning of wound healing prevents infection by removing harmful irritants and bacteria.
Vitamin A also helps strengthen the wound by stimulating collagen synthesis. Eggs, whole milk and fortified low-fat dairy products provide vitamin A, but you don't have to rely on animal products. Yellow- and orange-colored vegetables and dark-green leafy vegetables are also good sources.
Zinc and Iron Help Rebuild
Your body can't produce protein and collagen without zinc, while iron delivers oxygen to the damaged site. One of the most common causes of infection in a cut or wound is lack of oxygen, according to Advances in Wound Care. A deficiency of either mineral may delay tissue rebuilding and repair. Protein-rich foods are good sources of zinc and iron. Both minerals are also found in whole grains and fortified cereals and breads.
Ongoing Scar Support
Once the cut is fully repaired, sunscreen and hydrating ointments may help minimize the appearance of scars, but topical treatments containing vitamin E, C or D haven't been shown to help, according to the journal Archives of Dermatological Research.
- Cleveland Clinic: Nutrition Guidelines to Improve Wound Healing
- University of Texas: Wound Healing -- Scar Minimization
- Archives of Dermatological Research: A Comprehensive Evidence-Based Review on the Role of Topicals and Dressings in the Management of Skin Scarring
- Advances in Wound Care: Oxygen: Implications for Wound Healing
- National Institutes of Health: Office of Deitary Supplements: Vitamin A
- National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C