Healthy Eggs – A Buying Guide

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Scrambled, poached, or omeletteed eggs are one of the best (and cheapest!) sources of protein out there. Regardless of the cooking method, an egg is an egg is an egg. Or is it? Like milk, meat, and vegetable sources, eggs come in a wide variety. So what are the healthiest eggs to buy?

There is a whole box of different terms to describe the typical chicken egg in the supermarket. Some of the terms have a valid meaning, others are completely useless. So what should the buyer look for when choosing the best type of egg for a healthy diet? Here’s a breakdown…

free range

The term “free range” conjures up images of happy hens frolicking in the hay-soaked grounds of a picture-perfect farm, perhaps even a couple of pigtailed farm kids tending the grounds. The reality isn’t quite so ebullient. There are no strict government guidelines for defining “free range”. Hence, egg producers are slamming the label on cartons to add hype and price to eggs that really are no different from the norm. A farmer can call his chickens “free range” if he gives them access to a run (no matter how small), but it doesn’t matter whether the chickens actually use the run or not. So are these healthy eggs? Sure, all eggs are healthy, but these eggs are no healthier than the rest.

cage free

While the government’s definition of “free-range” is loose, their definition of “cage-free” is nonexistent. The hens don’t necessarily have to be in cages, but that doesn’t mean they won’t spend their entire lives confined to cramped spaces, indoors, and poor nutrition. Mostly cage free eggs are healthier eggs than cage eggs, but be careful before buying these eggs at inflated prices.

All natural

This term wins the award for the “Most Unnecessary Label”. Not just eggs, but all foods. What does “all natural” mean? Exactly nothing. Everything can be called completely natural. Heck, even plutonium can be called all-natural; it is a natural element after all. In fact, the term rules out the possibility that the egg is supernatural, but most consumers don’t worry about ghost eggs. Does that mean the egg wasn’t made in a lab? Possibly, but the preferred production machine e.g Everyone Eggs produced in America are still the chicken.

Organic

Organic eggs are not necessarily grass-fed eggs, but they usually go together. A hen that lays healthy, organic eggs will not receive antibiotics through the diet, except in certain cases of disease outbreaks. Chickens also need to spend some time outdoors, which results in a healthier hen and therefore a healthier egg.

Omega 3 enriched

In order to obtain eggs enriched with Omega 3, farmers feed their chickens a special diet of flaxseed or flax. The omega-3 fatty acids from the flax find their way into the eggs and ultimately into the consumer. The typical consumer can always benefit from more vital omegas, so this choice can be the champion for the egg connoisseur. Don’t be totally fooled though, the amount of essential omega fatty acids you get from omega-3 fortified eggs is still small compared to salmon, nuts or the optimal choice of an omega-3 supplement like a fish oil capsule . With these eggs, it’s not about the price. If you have the extra money, go for it.

Healthy Egg Buying Choices

Ultimately, the hen’s diet will determine how healthy the egg is, whether or not the egg is worth buying. Some egg manufacturers even list the chickens’ diet on the carton. These are also usually the healthiest eggs on the market, if the company lists the hen’s diet it usually means the hen’s diet is worth listing. Consider researching one or two of the farms or companies that ship eggs to your local supermarket. The best buy is the egg producer who eschews antibiotics, unnecessary hormones, and corn/soy-based diets. The healthiest diet for chickens includes grasses, larvae, worms and insects. The egg is a main component of a primal healthy eating. The healthier the egg, the healthier the person.

Thanks to Mark Sisson

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