It can be confusing to know which eggs to buy. There are cage free, free range, and organic, to name only a few. Which ones are healthy? Conventional means the hens were kept in very small cages, where cage free means the hens roam freely within a barn. Free range simply means the hens have a door that goes outside, not that they use it. Organic means the hens were fed organic feed. With Vegetarian eggs the hens have no access to meat products. All of these really have little meaning to the consumer. The only label that stands out as different is pastured. This indicates the hens were allowed to roam outside with access to bugs, grass, and sun.
The Healthiest Eggs
According to the USDA it doesn’t matter how a chicken is raised. The results in a Mother Earth News article say otherwise. According to them a pastured egg has less cholesterol and fat, but they have more vitamin A, E, and D, more beta carotene, and more omega-3 fatty acids than other eggs.
When a hen is raised in its natural environment and allowed access to pastures, it results in a more nutritious egg. We are not saying that pastured eggs are filled with extra vitamins. We are pointing out that conventional eggs have less, due to how the hens are raised.
It has long been debated as to whether raw eggs are healthy or dangerous. The media has convinced us that eating raw eggs is like taking a huge dose of Salmonella. The truth is that only one in every 20,000 eggs has Salmonella. Few of these cases result in death.
Keep in mind that raw egg whites do have Avidin, an anti-nutrient. It is advisable to only eat the yolk when consuming a raw egg.
Overall we can conclude that all the fuss over eating raw eggs is over rated. On the other hand, the benefits are not great enough that you would want to start including raw eggs into your diet. Of the cooked eggs, hard boiled and over easy are the best because they have less chance of oxidation.
Finding the Perfect Egg
Pastured eggs can be found at a farmer’s market. They cost a bit more, but they are more nutritious, flavorful, and safer. Like with any food, choose the most natural ones.