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Clean, shiny, healthy, well-groomed nails are a sign of personal hygiene as well as beauty.
The bare minimum of nail care is to wash them thoroughly to remove the dirt settled inside, trim and file them regularly, and apply a nail cream or oil to keep them moisturized. If you are feeling particularly indulgent, go for manicures from time to time.
While all these topical measures are pretty essential, people often overlook another equally important aspect of nail care, which is consuming a healthy diet.
The nutrients you consume every day play a significant role in maintaining your overall health, as they help nourish, strengthen, and repair every part of the body including your nails.
Conversely, poor nutritional intake will deprive your nails of nourishment, making them brittle and dull and hampering their growth.
For better nail health and to make them strong, consume the following beneficial foods:
Avocados are densely packed with nutrients (and taste!). Rich in healthy fats and vitamins, including vitamins A, B, K, and E, avocados can help give your nails a natural glow. (1)
You can add avocados to your diet by including them in dips and salads or spreading them directly on toast.
Broccoli is another highly nutritious vegetable that can help make your nails healthy, strong, and lustrous. It is an excellent source of antioxidants, iron, and amino acids such as cysteine.
Antioxidants help fight oxidative damage, and amino acids help repair cellular damage and promote nail growth, while iron helps boost hemoglobin.
Hemoglobin refers to the amount of red blood cells in the blood that are tasked with the responsibility of carrying oxygen. Thus, more hemoglobin means more oxygen supply to the nail bed, which will promote faster nail growth and impart a healthy pink color to your nails.
If you have dull, brittle nails, this healthy fruit can be a great value addition to your diet.
3. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are commonly found in trail mixes and nutrition bars. They are loaded with essential nutrients such as vitamins E and B6, iron, and zinc, (2) all of which can help in growing strong and healthy nails.
Sunflower seeds can be consumed raw as a salad topping or baked into bread or biscuits.
Tofu is a plant-based protein and is rich in vital nutrients such as zinc and omega-3-fatty-acids. (3) When eaten regularly, it can lead to robust nails.
This versatile food item can be consumed in many different ways. You can fry it, boil it, or toss it in salads and curries.
5. Yogurt and Milk
Milk and certain dairy products such as yogurt contain high levels of calcium, an essential nutrient to keep our bones, hair, and nails healthy. It not only makes your nails stronger but also helps them grow faster.
Yogurt also contains other nutrients including iron, magnesium, protein, biotin, and vitamin D, which can benefit your nails in different ways.
Ideally, you should consume at least one glass of milk every day, provided you are not lactose intolerant.
Legumes are filled with nutrients such as zinc, iodine, and biotin, which help accelerate nail growth and repair nail damage.
You can add legumes to your diet in a variety of ways – by adding them to soups and curries or by using cooked beans as fillings for tacos and burritos.
Mushrooms contain nutrients vital for hair and nail growth, such as potassium, copper, zinc, vitamin B2, and folate. (4)
Mushrooms can be of different types, and you can buy whichever variety is easily available to you.
They can either be eaten as a side dish, used as toppings, or added to various dishes, but you must first roast or lightly sauté them separately in a bit of olive oil or butter.
8. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes contain beta carotene, which is an antioxidant that is turned into vitamin A by our body. (5)
Vitamin A helps in cell production and division and is thus a crucial nutrient for the growth of your nails. In fact, people who don’t get enough vitamin A tend to have dry, brittle nails.
You can steam, bake, roast, or boil sweet potatoes.
9. Assorted Seeds
Seeds are an incredibly rich source of all nutrients. They contain fiber, minerals, protein, lipids, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Certain seeds such as flax seeds, watermelon seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds have high levels of iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc, which promote nail growth and improve their appearance.
Seeds can be eaten raw in salads and cereals or cooked in soups and stews.
10. Animal Protein
Protein is the building block of the body – it is required by the body for cell building that ultimately forms healthy tissue. Your skin, muscles, hair, nails, and bones are all made up of protein.
Protein itself is made up of numerous amino acids, which are molecules that combine to form a protein. However, 9 amino acids cannot be synthesized by the body on its own and therefore have to be derived through food sources.
Animal protein, which includes meats, fish, poultry, milk, and dairy products, is considered to be “complete protein,” as it contains all the 9 essential amino acids. In this regard, it trumps plant-based protein and is therefore a better choice if you are looking to improve your nail health. (6)
You can add eggs, chicken, red meat, salmon, and other animal protein sources to your diet for healthy nails.
Nails are a small but significant part of your body. Consuming a diet rich in beneficial nutrients will help you improve the appearance and health of your nails. The aim is to eat a wholesome, well-balanced diet that meets all your nutritional requirements.
The above-mentioned foods are particularly good for nail health and deserve a special mention.
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