Who doesn’t love a superfood? One minute they’re sitting lonely and unloved in the aisles of health food shops, the next they’re in every magazine under the sun and promising everything from a better heart to a perfect complexion.
Every now and then magazine editors list things like “staves off hair loss” and “good for healthy hair” when summarising the qualities of a new wonder snack, but now it seems there is one superfood whose hair-boosting claims outshine them all: quinoa.
What is quinoa?
To get you off on a good start, you first need to learn how to say it – “KEEN-wah”.
Often known as a ‘grain alternative’, Quinoa is actually from the same family as spinach, beetroots and chard, and the part that is eaten is the plant’s seed, although the leaves can be eaten too. With over 100 varieties, all of which are gluten-free, vegan and low in fat, it is especially beloved by slimmers because it is a natural appetite suppressant.
Quinoa is a ‘complete protein’ – so-called because it contains all nine of the essential amino acids which cannot be made by the body so must come from our diet. This is what makes it so good for your hair as having a protein-rich diet (up to 40 per cent) can help to promote stronger, healthier hair, although it will not inhibit hair loss conditions.
Hair brands love quinoa
“Hair brands can’t get enough of quinoa at the moment,” writes Isabella Silvers on InStyle.co.uk. “It could actually take your hair from poor to phwoar thanks to some pretty powerful amino acids, proteins and minerals.”
The InStyle article goes on to explain how quinoa’s huge stocks of protein can help nourish both hair and scalp from the inside, how one particular hydrolysed protein can seal split ends, and how Vitamin E in quinoa can minimise hair loss.
Other benefits are said to include an amino acid called tyrosine which InStyle says will help coloured hair return to its original shade. Quinoa’s anti-dandruff and scalp-soothing properties have also been noted, as has the way in which it helps to detangle hair.
“Quinoa is definitely a good way of getting lean protein into your diet, particularly for vegetarians and vegans, so it is fine to eat as part of a balanced diet” says Leonora Doclis, Senior Trichologist at The Belgravia Centre. “But while it may help you to strengthen your hair and improve its condition, it will not prevent hair loss conditions – particularly not androgenic alopeica – so I would like to know more about where the information regarding vitamin E in quinoa minimising hair loss comes from. My guess is that they are referring specifically to the condition Telogen Effluvium which can be caused by dietary deficiencies, among many other causes.”
Easiest way is to eat it
While you can find quinoa in a whole raft of new haircare products that can be lathered onto the scalp, you might do just as well (and be slightly better off) by snapping up its benefits as nature intended: by eating it. Some experts believe that protein-packed quinoa-based meals are the best and easiest way to benefit from its hair-boosting qualities.
Typically quinoa is boiled in water for about 15 minutes (it absorbs liquid rather like rice) and can then be used in a variety of ways. Fans rave of a risotto-like dish in which onions and olive oil are added, but it can be used in multiple dishes in which you’d normally use rice or couscous.
Since reaching peak mass market popularity in 2013, which was deemed the ‘International Year of Quinoa’, many supermarkets and food retailers now stock pre-prepared quinoa or feature it in their ready meals, for convenience.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.