Researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the University of Bradford discovered that grey hair is caused by large amounts of hydrogen peroxide that builds up in hair follicles, bleaching hair and preventing the melanin that produces colour from synthesising pigments. According to the National Institute of Health, levels of hydrogen peroxide in the body must be minimised by antioxidant enzymes such as catalase, which breaks hydrogen peroxide down into water and oxygen. Many foods contain catalase, and including them in your diet can prevent or reverse ageing effects such as grey hair.
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Beef liver has high amounts of catalase and is one of the best foods for breaking down the hydrogen that causes grey hair. It is also high in protein, vitamin A, iron and zinc, but it contains a lot of trans fat and cholesterol that can be harmful to your health. Including limited amounts of beef liver in your diet combined with fruits and vegetables that contain catalase is the best way to reverse grey hair while maintaining heart health.
Avocados are a rich source of catalase, but are too high in fat to use regularly. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, sweet potatoes containing catalase are the most nutritious vegetable and all potatoes are an inexpensive source of catalase. Other vegetables high in catalase enzymes include leeks, onions, radishes, kale, carrots, spinach, cucumbers, parsnips, celery and red cabbage, while zucchini contains a smaller amount.
Pineapple, cherries, apricots, bananas, watermelon, kiwi and peaches have the highest levels of catalase among fruit when eaten fresh and raw, as heat produced by cooking causes a decrease in enzyme activity. Food that is processed to appear more attractive so it is easily marketed usually has much less catalase than unprocessed food. Apples, pears, peaches and grapes contain some of the protein, but not as much as other fruit.
While all plant cells contain catalase, some have higher levels of catalase than others. Young, newly sprouting plants such as wheat sprouts, lentils, clover, Brussels sprouts and the sprouts of dark green plants contain much more catalase than older ones. Sunflower seeds, yeast, cheese and dairy products contain some catalase. Supplements can be used, but are not as effective as fresh, whole foods. Taking supplements such as manganese, copper, zinc and selenium helps your body produce more catalase.
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- Tandurust: Catalase Enzymes Food Sources and Hydrogen Peroxide
- PASCO.com: Catalase Enzyme Activity
- Food Reference: Sweet Potato Nutrition
- National Institute of Health: Nutritional Relevance of Wheat Sprouts
- National Institute of Health: Hydrogen Peroxide in the Human Body
- Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU): Gray Hair in Old Age