When it comes to picking eggs, there sure are many labels. You may have spent quite a bit of time at the egg display at your local grocery, trying to figure out the difference between the various labels of eggs. Obviously, one of these labels should be the healthier option, but which one?
You may be confused about whether to buy organic and may be wondering what the perks of buying organic eggs are. You might also be asking yourself, what is the difference between cage-free eggs and pasture-raised eggs. What is the difference between brown and white eggs and are omega-3 eggs healthier than other eggs?
You could find yourself spending quite a bit of time at the egg display wondering which type of eggs to buy. There are so many options, that if you are not well informed, you would have a hard time figuring out what type of eggs to buy and for what reason.
Fortunately for you, we have a guide to help you better understand those labels. We will help you understand which eggs you should pick and for what reason; keeping reading this word to word.
Things You Should be Asking Yourself
When picking eggs, there are certain questions that you need to ask yourself to better understand the type of eggs that you should choose. Are you most importantly concerned about which type of egg is the healthiest and contains the best nutritional profile? Or are you worried about what the chickens were fed and whether they were given any antibiotics? Do you also consider the welfare of the animal when making your purchase?
There are various questions that you should be looking to ask yourself when picking eggs. The answers to these questions will give you a clear idea as to the type of eggs that you should be choosing. For instance, if you are on a budget, then, certain types of eggs may be more beneficial for you since they are more affordable.
Otherwise, if you are concerned about the environment and the impact you have on the world at large, you may want to pick eggs that uphold those beliefs.
Don’t be afraid to ask yourself these questions for they will allow you to uncover the type of egg that you are looking for. Once you have read this word to word, you would have a good idea about the meaning behind each label of eggs. That way, you can decide for yourself, what is important to you and make your selection based on your preference.
Nutritional Profile of Eggs
Eggs are loaded with nutrients and can be an excellent addition to the diet for many people. It is a reliable source of healthy proteins and fats with one large egg providing about 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat.
Eggs also provide the body with a healthy dose of vitamin A, which helps improve vision. They also contain choline which has brain-boosting properties.
Omega-3 enriched eggs are eggs from hens that are fed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These eggs are a great way to source omega-3 fatty acids and contain more omega-3s than conventional eggs.
When eating eggs, you want to ensure to eat both the white and the yolk. Though many people consider the yolk to contain cholesterol, the yolk actually contains some essential nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin D, choline and even omega 3’s. That being the case, people who do suffer from high cholesterol should avoid eating egg yolks and should consult a professional dietician prior to eating eggs on a frequent basis.
To understand the various health benefits of including eggs in the diet, we recommend that you read this article. Click here.
What are the Healthiest Types of Eggs?
The healthiness of the eggs depends on a host of factors such as the feed that the hens are fed and even the environment in which the hens are raised. Did you know that hens that have more access to the outdoors and sunshine tend to lay eggs that contain 3 to 4 times more vitamin D.
Hence, based on the various factors such as feed and environment, the nutrient profile of the eggs will vary. The labels that you see on eggs all relate to different sets of parameters. Let’s try to understand a little better, what these labels mean, so you can decide for yourself, which eggs are the healthiest option for you.
Pastured Eggs (Pasture Raised Eggs)
When are you are referring to certified pasture-raised eggs, you are referring to eggs laid by hens that were not caged in any way. The hens were free to walk around and nest. They were given sufficient access to outdoor spaces. This generally means these types of eggs contain a greater amount of vitamin D in comparison to conventional eggs.
The label does not however guarantee that the animals did not have their beaks cut off or were not subjected to starvation-induced molting. The label is not USDA regulated.
That being the case, pasture-raised hens are free to eat grass and bugs further to the commercial feed that was fed. As a result of this, these eggs are higher in nutrient value and may contain higher amounts of omega-3s. Pasture-raised eggs are one of the healthiest choices you can make when it comes to picking eggs and it has a better nutritional profile in comparison to conventional eggs.
If you would like more information on how these animals are treated on the farms, you can always learn more about the company. If you buy these eggs from the local farmers market, you can always speak to the farmer to gather more information about their farming practices.
The majority of eggs that are laid in the US are sourced from hens that are kept in cages. They are kept in small spaces and are not allowed sufficient room to even spread their wings. This makes for a very stressful environment in which these birds are raised.
The cage-free system of raising hens allow for the animals to walk around and spread their wings. They are free to roam around and lay their eggs in their nests. Though this is a significantly less cruel system of raising hens, there aren’t completely cruelty-free.
Hens that are raised in a cage-free system could still have their beaks burned off. They could also be transported long distances without access to food or water. They could also be exposed to starvation-induced molting amongst other things.
Cage-free hens usually are less stressed and tend to have more access to the outdoors. This makes the eggs of these hens greater in nutritional value.
With certified organic eggs, very close attention is paid to the feed that the hens are fed. USDA certified organic eggs are laid by hens that have been raised following similar standards as pasture-raised eggs.
However, a greater degree of care is taken with organic eggs and things such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are not used in the production of the eggs.
The hens are fed a specific organic diet that doesn’t compose of any animal by-products or antibiotics. Organic eggs are also non-GMO which means, they are not genetically modified.
Organic eggs are also given a grading based on the quality of the eggs. Eggs that have been graded A, or AA, would have a thicker egg white, while an egg graded B would have a thinner egg white. This allows you to pick the eggs based on need. If you are baking a cake for instance and doesn’t require thick egg whites, you can opt for a B graded egg.
Though these organic eggs are graded, this does not mean that all graded eggs were laid by hens that were raised cage-free. It is best to verify the source and check the company to ensure that the organic eggs that you are purchasing are cage-free.
The nutritional profile of organic eggs will vary since the feed that is fed to the hens vary. However, the greater appeal of organic eggs rests on the fact that they are great for the environment. The production of these eggs don’t use any pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, antibiotics or chemical fertilizers, which makes it a healthier choice for the environment.
Though you may be surprised, the term ‘natural’ doesn’t really mean much. It simply means that nothing was added to the egg. It goes to signify that the eggs were naturally laid by the hen and that’s about it.
‘Natural’ or ‘All Natural’ eggs do not require special feed or even make any specific mention of the environment in which the hens were raised. You could find cage-free natural eggs at the same time find natural eggs laid by hens in a cage setting.
The term only refers to the fact that they were laid naturally by a hen and all eggs meet this criterion. As a result, this label doesn’t really provide any direction on the healthiness of the egg, nor does it portray the environment in which the hens were raised.
Free-range simply means that the hens have access to the outdoors and are not raised indoors only. It isn’t prescribed how much access they have to the outdoors or whether the area is covered with vegetation. However, it does relate similarly to the way cage-free and pasture-raised hens are raised.
Free-range eggs are laid by hens that have more access to the outdoors. As a result of this, the nutrient content in the eggs are greater. For instance, these eggs would contain more vitamin D in comparison to conventional eggs.
These hens are considered a lot freer and are exposed to less cruel conditions, hence free-range eggs are considered an ethical choice.
These eggs are laid by hens that are specially fed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The fact that they are fed a diet rich in omega-3s makes these eggs a reliable source of these valuable nutrients for consumers.
Omega-3 fatty acids are attained through a handful of foods and eggs that contain omega-3 are considered really valuable to the diet of health conscious people.
In comparison to conventional eggs, omega-3 enriched eggs have a higher omega-3 content, which makes them more nutritionally valuable.
Local Farm Eggs
Though this is less of a label and more of knowing where to get them, local farm eggs can be a healthier and more natural option in comparison to conventional eggs. These local farms usually offer greater access to the outdoors and better conditions of living for the hens making this the more ethical option.
The hens live in a less stressful environment and have the freedom to move around and nest. These local farms are usually smaller than some of the bigger egg operations, as a result of which, the animals are better-taken care of. They are looked after in a more responsible manner and are fed a healthier diet.
These eggs come close to pasture-raised or free-range eggs and are considered better for the bird and the consumer.
Are Brown Eggs Healthier Than White Eggs?
This is a common question that many people have. Brown eggs are slightly more expensive than white eggs, which gives everyone the impression that they may be healthier. This is not entirely the case.
Brown eggs are laid by brown feathered hens while white eggs are laid by white-feathered hens. The brown feathered hens are larger in size and consume more feed, as a result of which brown eggs are more expensive in comparison to white eggs.
However, are brown eggs actually healthier than white eggs? No, they aren’t any healthier than white eggs and contain the same nutritional value as white eggs. The nutritional content of the eggs depends on a host of other factors such as the feed fed to the hens and the environment in which the hens were raised. The colour of the shell actually has no link to the healthiness of the egg.
For greater clarity in understanding the difference between white eggs and brown eggs, we recommend that you read this article on, ‘What is the Difference Between Brown Eggs and White Eggs?‘
How to Pick the Right Egg
Now that you have a better idea of what these labels mean, you have a good idea of how to go about picking the right type of eggs for you.
First of all, you want to dismiss the label ‘natural.’ All eggs are natural and the label doesn’t really provide any insight into the healthiness of the egg or the condition in which the hens were raised.
There are three parameters that you should consider when picking eggs. First, how the hens are raised. Second, what they are fed and third, the impact on the environment.
If you are one such person who takes into account the impact they have on the environment, it is best to do with organic eggs. When choosing organic, you may want to ensure that they are also cage-free, thereby ensuring that the hens are raised in a ethical and healthy environment and are treated well. Choosing organic also gives you the opportunity to pick eggs that were laid by hens that were fed organic feed. Hence, all in all, picking organic is cleaner.
Though pasture-raised and free-range have more of an impact on the environment than organic eggs, they too are similarly healthy options. The hens are treated well and are given access to the outdoors which increases the nutrient value of the eggs.
If we were to consider the healthiest eggs, we would have to go with pasture-raised. These hens eat grass and bugs on top of the commercial feed that they are fed. As a result of this, their eggs contain more omega-3s and other nutrients. They are also treated well and are raised in an open and free setting.
When picking eggs, you want to take into account the ethics of how the birds are treated and consider the environment in which the birds are raised. Often a times, the more ethical settings in which the hens are raised lead to more nutritious eggs, thereby making them the better option.
With this many choices, no wonder picking eggs can be a difficult task at times. If you weren’t previously aware of what these different labels for eggs meant, now you have a much better idea.
The point of this article was to inform you the consumer of what each label meant. This way, you would have a good idea of what you are picking and purchasing and thereby supporting.
We made it easier for you by pointing out the various elements that you should consider when picking eggs and even recommended the types of eggs considered the healthiest (pasture-rasied).
After reading this word to word, we hope you are now have a clear idea about the various labels for eggs and have an easier time buying eggs based on your personal preference.