You probably already know that eggs are an excellent protein source; one egg has about six grams. But in addition to providing the body with energy, Dr. Ramsey says eggs also support the brain—and not for the reason you may think. "The mistake many people tend to make with eggs is thinking that they are healthy because of the omega-3 fats, but that's not true," he says, referring to a nutrient that's long been linked to benefitting the brain. "Eggs don't have a lot of omega-3 fats in them."
- Drew Ramsey, MD, psychiatrist and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University
Okay...so then what are the brain benefits of eggs? "The reason why eggs are so great for brain health is because an egg has every nutrient we need to make a brain cell," Dr. Ramsey says. A run-down of exactly what those nutrients are include protein, iron, zinc, selenium, iodine, folate, vitamin A, choline, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids 1 and 3. And eggs has every single one of 'em.
Watch the video below to learn more about the brain benefits of eggs and why a registered dietitian calls eggs "nature's multivitamin":
Dr. Ramsey says the choline in eggs is especially noteworthy. "Choline is very important for brain health because it's used in the construction of some of our most important membranes," he says. One in particular is called phosphatidylcholine, which may help preserve and even improve memory.
While it's definitely clear that eggs are full of nutrients that benefit the brain, you may be wondering about the cholesterol. Does eating eggs regularly to benefit the brain mean sacrificing your heart health in the process? Dr. Ramsey says that a scientific connection hasn't proved to be strong enough to worry about it. In fact, a scientific study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that took into account 177,000 people in 50 different countries found that people who ate seven or more eggs a week had better cardiovascular health and lower inflammation than those who ate less than one egg a week.
Dr. Ramsey says that one of his favorite ways to consume eggs is by making a frittata made with other brain-healthy ingredients including olive oil and antioxidant-rich veggies. Recently in his virtual cooking class, Mental Health Kitchen, Chef Emily Berner taught how to make kuku sabzi, a Persian herb frittata. Check out the recipe below so you can try it yourself—and reap all the brain health benefits in the process.
Kuku Sabzi recipe (Persian herb frittata with greens)
2 bunches of spinach (about 5 cups), chopped
1 large leek, white part only, sliced and washed well
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt, divided
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
4 cups chopped cilantro, leaves and tender stems
2 cups chopped dill, leaves and tender stems
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Heat a 10- to 12-inch cast-iron or nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan (about two tablespoons). Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Remove spinach from the pan and set aside to cool in a bowl.
3. Add half the butter to the pan and when it begins to foam, add the leeks with half the salt. Cook until tender and translucent, about five to 10 minutes.
4. Squeeze the spinach and discard the liquid. Chop and add it to a bowl with cilantro and dill.
5. When the leeks are done cooking, add them to the spinach. Add remaining salt, and let it cool.
6. Add eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is barely bound together.
7. Wipe your pan clean, and heat on a high heat. Add the remaining butter and olive oil, and when the butter begins to foam, pour the egg mixture into the pan.
8. For the first two minutes of cooking, use a rubber spatula to pull the edges of the mixture into the center as they set. Then, reduce the heat and let it cook. It will take a while for the center to set, about 10 minutes.
9. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the center is fully set, about 10 minutes longer.
10. When it's done, let it cool for a few minutes, and flip it out onto a plate.
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