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Which Eggs are Best?

Are some eggs more nutritious than others?

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
Episode #083

What Makes Eggs More Nutritious?

There are two ways to improve the nutritional quality of eggs. One is to give the chickens access to pasture, where they can eat green plants and insects. That increases the amount of beta-carotene, vitamin D, E, and omega-3 fatty acids in the eggs. All of these particular nutrients, by the way, are found in the yolks. The chicken’s diet doesn’t really affect the egg whites, which are primarily protein. Also, be aware that the nutritional content, appearance, and flavor of eggs from pastured hens varies with the season, as the flora and fauna of the pasture changes.

I should point out that pastured chickens are not necessarily organic and organic chickens are not necessarily pastured. Organic chickens may be fed organic chicken feed but never allowed to graze open pasture.  Conversely, pastured chickens may or may not be grazing on land that’s been certified organic.  

More Nutritious Chicken Feed Makes More Nutritious Eggs

Pastured and omega-3 fortified eggs offer some nutritional advantages—but regular eggs are still very nutritious.

The other way to improve the nutritional quality of the eggs is to fortify the chicken feed with nutrients that you’d like to see in the eggs. Eggland’s Best produces eggs that are higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, for example, by adding flaxseed to the chicken feed. Any type of chicken, whether pastured, organic, both, or neither, may be given feed that’s been fortified with additional nutrients like omega-3s or vitamin E.

Quick and Dirty Tips on Which Eggs are Best

It’s all a little confusing, I’ll grant you. But now that I’ve given a little background on what all these terms do and don’t mean, here are my quick and dirty tips about eggs.

  1. Terms like “cage-free” and “free-range” don’t tell you much about how the animals are being raised. If animal welfare is a concern, you need to do some research on your farmer.

  2. Buying organic eggs helps keep pesticides and antibiotics out of farmyards and the larger environment—but doesn’t necessarily get you more nutritious eggs.

  3. Pastured and omega-3 fortified eggs offer some nutritional advantages—although I’d like to point out that regular old eggs are still very nutritious.

Keep in Touch

If you have a suggestion for a future show topic send an email to nutrition@quickanddirtytips.com or leave me a voice mail at 206-203-1438.  You can also post comments and questions on my Nutrition Diva Facebook Page or on Twitter.  I answer a lot of listener questions in my free weekly newsletter, so if you’ve sent a question my way, be sure you’re signed up to receive that.

Have a great week and remember to eat something good for me!

RESOURCES: 

What egg labels tell you about animal welfare  (Humane Society)

Requirements for organic certification of eggs  (About.com:Green Living)

Omega-3 enriched eggs (Canadian Egg Marketing Association)

Salmonella risk from organic eggs  (NutritionData.com)
 

Eggs image courtesy of Shutterstock

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