Eggstraordinary! Choosing the best egg type for you
Whatever would we do without eggs?
They’re the perfect food. Whether it’s just for breakfast, as a stand in for a quick lunch or supper, blend raw into holiday nogs, or as an ingredient in all kinds of sweet and savory dishes, they are easy to eat, well-tolerated by young and old, adaptable to any meal, and inexpensive. But the question is, how do you know which eggs are best for you to eat?
Maybe you are wondering whether it really makes a difference what kind of eggs you choose. Well, it does. Just like many other birds, chickens eat whatever they find available to them. So, when they’re raised in a clean, healthy and organic environment, they have access to good and naturally available food. The end result is the clean nutrition you get when you eat their eggs.
But if chickens are kept in filthy, overstuffed factory farm conditions and fed a diet that makes no difference, you are reducing the nutritional value of the eggs they produce. There’s now a baffling range of options available when it comes to choosing eggs, from value brands through to organic and nutritionally enriched varieties, vie for space on supermarket shelves.
Different Types of Eggs You Can Choose from
There’s no doubt about it that eggs are good for your health. No matter which variety of egg you choose, remember that they are all good sources of protein as well as choline and lutein, which promote brain and eye health, respectively. What about brown and white eggs? Well, eggs come in different colours: brown, white, blue, and green but there’s no difference in nutritional value between them and you can eat one—or two, depending on who you ask—per day, yolks included, without running up your cholesterol.
While all these eggs have something in common which is their high nutritional value and the fact that they come from chickens, there are so many differences among the chicken species, how they were raised and what they were fed. These factors can make the nutritional value of the eggs differ greatly. Let’s start with cage-free eggs…
These are eggs that come from birds raised in “cage-free” environments or floor systems usually in an open barn. The hens usually have unlimited access to food and water with bedding material such as pine shavings on the floor while they are allowed perches and nesting areas to lay their eggs in, however, cage-free does not necessarily mean cruelty-free, the hens are still most likely to be raised in very tight conditions throughout their lives getting very little exposure to sunlight. The only difference being that they are not in cages. All these conditions can have bad effects on the desire of the chickens and ultimately the quality and taste of the eggs they produce.
Free-range eggs are produced by hens that are allowed some exposure to the outdoors under a shelter where they can roam freely, stretch their wings and forage for their natural diet, such as plants, seeds, worms, and insects. This environment and the nutrition from their varied diet eventually make the nutritional profile of free range eggs significantly better.
Organic eggs are gotten from hens that are not kept in any sort of caging system. Just like free-range chickens, they have access to the outdoors but are fed only organic feed which does not contain additives and are not pumped with antibiotics, vaccines or other intrusive drugs.
Hens producing these eggs are not fed any animal protein. Rather, they are fed organic vegetarian-based diet typically consisting of corn and soybeans. They are kept indoors or in cages and do not peck any insects or worms. This might not totally be correct in many companies which claim to produce vegetarian eggs as chickens are naturally omnivorous and they will happily eat insects, worms, and other small creatures they find around them.
These eggs mean that chickens are free to roam in open spaces, eating and enjoying their favourite food: plants and insects. This method of raising hens is probably the best as they are out in the field and not crowded into corners, this will reduce the rate at which infections are spread helping them develop healthier immune systems in the process. They are also not given any hormones or antibiotics, meaning they will produce eggs with better taste and superior nutritional content.
Choosing Eggs That Are Best for You and What to Avoid
When you look at labels on some egg cartons, they can be very confusing and you can often find yourself staring at a cold shelf of eggs for a few minutes before you finally give up. So, how can you choose the most nourishing, healthy eggs for your family when you are faced with these meaningless and misleading labels?
We encourage you to always go for Pasture-Raised eggs. These eggs are simply the best eggs that you can find, they are produced by hens that are not confined in wire cages or huddled by the thousands in cage-free barns, but hens that roam freely outdoors on a pasture where they can forage for their natural diet, which includes seeds, green plants, insects, and worms making the eggs they produce far more nutritious. Recent studies have shown that Pasture-raised eggs contain 70% more vitamin B12 and 50% more folic acid. Also, pasture-raised eggs have three times more omega-3s and are 220% higher in vitamin E and 62% higher in vitamin A than eggs obtained from battery cage hens.
You would be able to tell whether eggs are pasture-raised from the colours of their egg yolk. They’ll mostly have bright yellow yolks while eggs form caged hens have yolks that are dull and pale-yellowish in colour. Also, the egg white in pastured eggs is bigger and noticeably thicker. You are most likely to find these superior eggs at farmer’s markets or natural food stores. Talk to your grocer or the chicken producer and find out how the chickens were actually raised. The best place to find fresh pasture-raised eggs is a local farm with small flocks and a natural lifestyle for their chickens. This way, you’ll have the opportunity to talk to the farmers face to face and know exactly what you are buying.
Choose eggs with the most Omega-3s and DHAs possible…
Virtually all egg yolks contain omega-3 fats. However, the amount of omega-3s varies with the amount of foods containing omega-3s that are eaten by the hen. If you can’t get pastured eggs, then try to find Omega-3 enriched eggs as your second choice.
Choose organic when possible…
If pastured or Omega-3 eggs are not available to you, then you can try out either free-range, organic or cage-free eggs.
Avoid refrigerating your eggs or cooking them at high heat.
Try as much to keep your eggs whole, and serve them either soft boiled or poached.
You love eggs? Well, we do too! Choosing the highest quality eggs is one more step in your journey to becoming healthier and more vibrant!