Breakfast for the Brain: Gold & Pink Omelet
I’m about to drop a series of food science bombs that will change your mornings, and your mind…
But before that, I need to introduce you to your new favorite breakfast: The Gold & Pink Omelet!
- Eggs (Omega-3-rich or pastured)
- The Gold: Turmeric
- The Pink: Smoked salmon/lox (or other fatty fish)
- Black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- Optional: mushrooms or other veggies
- Optional: paprika
- Heat EVOO in a pan.
- Mix a few high-Omega-3 or pastured eggs with turmeric, black pepper, and salt (all to taste), then dump the eggs into the pan with the hot oil.
- Once the eggs are cooked through, add some smoked salmon/lox or other fatty fish, fold over your omelet, and serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil and paprika for color (optional).
Okay, cooking lesion over! Here comes the science lesson…
- There are three types of Omega-3 fats: ALA, EPA, and DHA. ALA comes from land sources, such as flaxseeds, walnuts, and egg yolks, whereas EPA and DHA come exclusively from marine sources, like salmon.
- DHA is the most important Omega-3 for the brain. In fact, the brain itself is 30% DHA! Therefore, the salmon in the omelet provides the most important fat for the brain. (If you’re wondering about the Omega-3-rich eggs, be patient and read on.)
Salmon is also rich in one of the world’s strongest antioxidants, astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is suited to protect DHA from being damaged so more DHA from your food ends up in your brain. (Read more here: https://mdlingo.com/why-salmon-are-pink-and-why-you-should-care-in/)
- Eggs are not only a great source of protein, but they are also rich in choline, which supports brain development and maintenance by serving as a precursor for some of the compounds found in neuronal membranes, axonal myelin sheaths (these helps neurons carry signals), and neurotransmitters. Perhaps you’ve heard of acetylcholine?
- The reason you want high-Omega-3 eggs or pastured eggs is because they contain the Omega-3 ALA (remember, land sources = ALA). Wait, but I said you want DHA. Well, ALA can be converted to DHA; however, in humans, this conversion rate is very low – on the order of only 1 -5%! Thus, on its own, the ALA in your eggs wouldn’t be that useful for the brain. But wait! There’s more…
- Turmeric can increase the conversion of ALA to DHA! (That’s a hot tip for your vegetarian friends.) This means that, by combining turmeric with your eggs, you effectively boost the fat quality of the eggs themselves! And that’s only the tip of the iceberg…
- Turmeric is the king of health spices! Numerous studies suggest that turmeric, and its extract, curcumin, can be used to prevent, treat, or cure diseases literally A – Z, including arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, crohn’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, ulcerative colitis, and Zika. (Don’t believe me? Google “turmeric” + “[your favorite disease]” and see for yourself.) More to the point of brain health, some research suggests it can prevent and/or treat the two most burdensome brain diseases: Alzheimer’s disease and depression.
- However, turmeric itself has a bio-availability problem. Alone, it’s really not absorbed well by the body; it needs to be transported by fats. This is perfect, since there are healthy fats in the olive oil, eggs, and lox.
– While the fats in the olive oil, eggs, and lox will help the curcumin in the turmeric get absorbed into your body, a compound in black pepper called piperine can increase the bioavailability of curcumin by a further 2000%!
- Olive oil is rich in oleic acid. Oleic acid gets converted into a compound called oleoylethanolamide (OEA) in the gut. OEA binds to TRPV1 receptors on a nerve in the gut (the Vagus nerve) that sends a signal to the brain to release the feel-good anti-stress “cuddle” hormone oxytocin!
- Olive oil is also rich in an antioxidant called oleocanthal. This intimidating name comes from “oleo” for olive and “canth” for sting. I mention this because you can test to see if you have a good fresh olive oil by tasting it and waiting to see if you get a peppery sting in the back of your throat (this is good). In addition to serving as a test for good oil, oleocanthal can prevent the buildup of the two chemical hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, amyloid plaques and tau tangles.
Okay, I know that was A LOT of nerdy nutrition knowledge, and I expect that at least some of it went over your head. That’s totally fine.
HERE IS THE BIG PICTURE: Individually, each of these ingredients (eggs, salmon, turmeric, olive oil) are amazing brain foods, but together, they work as a team! They boost each other up so the “Gold & Pink Omelet” is far more than the sum of its parts.
Plus, you eat with your eyes first. And the green and pink from the olive oil and salmon, set against the golden-yellow from the turmeric, is just about the most eye-catching breakfast you can eat!
P.S. I’m almost reluctant to support the above for-fun nerd-recipe article with references because no reasonable handful of links to the peer-reviewed literature can capture the scope and nuance of what will be going on in your mouth and tummy when you eat this dish. Each reference triggers a new question, concern, or conundrum that requires another link to chase it up, seemingly to infinity! Believe it or not, there is so much I didn’t have space to get into in the above: facts about different forms of DHA and how they get transported into the brain, information on how the carrier oils in the whole turmeric root can support curcumin function, why you shouldn’t worry about the cholesterol in eggs, suggestions for additional superfoods to add to the mix, but I digress… Here are some links anyway…
Image is of Chef Jared Blake’s interpterion of this dish: “omelette stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, onion, and spinach, topped with lox, green onions, cherry tomatoes, and some fresh ground pepper. Served with a turmeric aioli sauce on the side and brightened with fresh squeezed lime juice.” I could have been more honest and posted a picture of my omelette, but my cooking isn’t nearly as photogenic, and his dishes are food-porn-click-bait.”