The Truth About Eggs: Are "Organic" Eggs Really the Best?
There are a lot of myths out there about eggs. For many years, eggs have been portrayed incorrectly, as a food that has a high level of heart harming cholesterol. Many allopathic doctors have and still do advise against eating eggs. However eggs are actually a superfood, containing many nutrients that are critical to a healthy diet.
Although cholesterol is seen as "bad" in the eyes of many, it is actually an essential part of your body. Cholesterol is needed to produce cell membranes, anti-inflammatory hormones, vitamin D, and the bile acids your body needs to emulsify and digest fat. Isn't it interesting to look at our past diet trends (low fat) and the rise of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's Disease as that generation ages? Eggs are an excellent source of nutrients containing 13 essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin D (critical for immune and bone health), choline (for normal cell function and to support healthy brain development in pregnancy), and lutein (an antioxidant that is believed to fight cancer, cataracts, and macular degeneration). In addition, eggs are a healthy source of protein.
"Besides providing all eight essential protein building amino acids, a large whole, fresh egg offers about six to seven grams of protein and five grams of fat...which comes in handy to help in the absorption of all the egg's fat soluble vitamins.
One egg also serves up around 200 milligrams of brain-loving cholesterol and contains the valuable vitamins A, K, E, D, B-complex and the minerals iron, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium. Choline, another egg nutrient, is a fatty substance found in every living cell and is a major component of our brain. Additionally, choline helps break up cholesterol deposits by preventing fat and cholesterol from sticking to the arteries. So the bottom line is, don't be chicken about eating eggs, especially the cholesterol rich yolks!" (Jen Allbritton, Weston A. Price Foundation).
So, Which Eggs Should You Choose?
There are many aspects to picking good, healthy eggs. There can be major discrepancies between different companies, from how the hens are housed to what they are fed and how they are raised. You may think eggs labeled "organic" would be the best choice, however; this is not always the case. Big brand eggs are almost always from caged hens. This means that the chickens are kept indoors (in the dark) in crowded cages and are fed chicken feed, which is a far cry from a traditional chicken diet. These eggs are far inferior to pasture raised chicken eggs, not to mention the conditions these hens are kept in are inhumane. Not only can these hens not walk around, most do not even have room to lay down in their cages. Finding eggs from small family farms is usually the best choice, both nutritionally and morally, when it comes to purchasing eggs.
Conventional chickens kept in crowded, dark cages
Pasture raised chickens are free to forage and roam
"The best producers with permanent housing profiles in Scrambled Eggs have plenty of pasture available surrounding their chicken houses, multiple popholes (doors) of adequate size and maintain the birds by rotating them into separate paddocks, allowing a rest period for the pasture to recover.
Laying hens on pasture-based farms tend to be under less stress - based on their greater opportunity to exercise and ability to engage in instinctive foraging behaviors that cuts down on aggression toward their flock mates - and frequently live closer to three years instead of the one year that is common on industrial scale farms" (The Cornucopia Institute).
You can view the results of The Cornucopia Institute's report, including rankings for 70 different name brand eggs and private label products here.
This guide can help you make a more informed decision when it comes to purchasing eggs for you and your family. As a rule, you will know good eggs from bad eggs based upon a few key characteristics:
1. Shell hardness - the harder the shell, the better the eggs. If you eggs have soft shells, they likely come from unhealthy chickens.
2. Egg yolks - The yolk of an egg should be a dark orangey color. If your yolks are yellow, find a new brand of eggs.
3. Egg whites - When you crack your egg, the white around the yolk should appear thicker and should sit higher than the surrounding white. This indicates that the eggs are fresh, and haven't taken many weeks to be processed and delivered to you.