How to Choose the Best Healthy Eggs

Photo of pastured eggs by Rick Osborn

Eggs are one of nature’s most complete foods.

An egg is an egg is an egg is an egg, or is it? Hmm, well, eggs are one of my favorite foods. Given this fact, I’m constantly on the pursuit of finding the best healthy eggs to put into my body – for health reasons, of course. Below are my findings.

Conventional Eggs to Pastured Organic Eggs, What’s best?

To date, the only advantage that I can see for buying conventional eggs over organic pasture raised healthy eggs is the market price. Bottom line, if you’re going to eat eggs, I suggest that you go for the best healthy eggs =>> PASTURE RAISED EGGS, plain and simple. If you want to know why, keep reading.

Anatomy of a healthy raw egg

Factory, Commercial Eggs

These are your standard, cheapest regular grocery store eggs. If you want cheap, these are the ones to buy. They come from chickens that typically are debeaked (not very humane). They tend to be fed hormones due to overcrowding, which leads to disease. They also tend to be kept under bright light 24 hours a day. The hens are raised in overcrowded, unnatural conditions with the sole purpose of egg production. They are fed soy and corn, which are NOT part of a chicken’s normal diet. When you buy these eggs, keep in mind what you’re eating. Oh, and one other thing, the natural wax coating on the shell of the egg is typically removed (per the FDA) and then they are sprayed with a disinfectant. I wonder if this leeches into the inside? Hmm…

Cage Free Eggs

The term “cage free” sounds great, but in reality isn’t much better than the above. The chickens that lay these eggs still tend to be overcrowded and are also fed the wrong diet. And, just because the word “organic” supercedes the word “cage free,” doesn’t mean that the egg is much better than the lowest common denominator.

Cage Free Vegetarian Fed Organic Eggs

These eggs tend to be about the same as the others, except that the grains that the chicken receive are supposed to be certified organic. Still they tend to have a high soy diet, which still is not the natural food of chickens.

Cage Free “Vegetarian Fed” Omega 3 Organic Eggs

Wow, the above sounds impressive, but remember, corn, soy and other grains are NOT the normal diet for a chicken. I’ve heard it said, by someone who raises chickens for their eggs, that feeding chicken corn, is like feeding them candy. Again, it’s not a good diet for a chicken. This will translate to the content of the eggs that you buy, regardless of the omega 3 infusion from the unnatural feed that it receives.

Free range eggs are best, if they're pastured eggs

Free Range Organic Eggs

Again, in theory, this kind of labeling sounds perfect, right? Well, you have to be careful. Just because an egg is labeled “free range,” doesn’t mean that it’s the best option. In many stores, it may be the best option. However, don’t be too quick to think that you’re getting what’s best for your health. The chickens that produce these eggs can still have a very confined “free range” area, with the bulk of their diets coming from corn and soy. If you have all of the above options to choose from and you need eggs now, I would suggest choosing the “free range organic” eggs. Still, there’s a better solution.

The above kinds of eggs are from worst to best, but still NOT the best option when buying eggs…

True “Pasture Raised” Eggs are the best!

I’m not going to lie to you. Real, pasture raised eggs are not the most available, nor the easiest to find. Moreover, – “Free-range/pastured eggs are likely to be more expensive because production costs are higher.” (Quote from Mother Earth News Article: “Tests Reveal Healthier Eggs”). Nevertheless, look at the amazing benefits.

True, pasture raised eggs have:

  • 1/3 less cholesterol than the others
  • 1/4 less saturated fat than commercial eggs
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 3 times more omega-3 fatty acids (lowers inflammation in the body)
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene

To quote the Weston A. Price Foundation on eggs:

“Without a doubt, fresh, pastured eggs are superior in taste and nutrition to conventionally raised commercially available varieties. Eggs have been a highly valued foods since the beginning of time—eggs from chickens, ducks, geese, turtles and fish. Egg yolks are the richest source of two superstar carotenoids—lutein and zeaxanthin. Not only are bright yellow yolks loaded with these fat-soluble antioxidant nutrients, they are more bioavailable than those found in vegetables, corn and most supplements. While these nutrients have a reputation of combating macular degeneration and cataracts and supporting overall healthy vision, they have a long list of other benefits, including protecting the skin from sun damage and even reducing one’s risk of colon and breast cancer.

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 (with about 1.5 grams of it saturated), 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 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!

When left to their own scavenger instincts, being the omnivores they are, chickens eat bugs, worms (and even snakes if given the opportunity), grasses and nutritious herbs such as plantain leaves and wilted nettle—both of which boost egg production and yolk hue. While these feathered friends will eat the grain and pellets left in the feed trough, it certainly isn’t their ideal food. Remember, chickens are omnivores, not vegetarians as many people assume, meaning they are designed to consume foods from both animal and plant sources. Subjecting chickens to a strictly vegetarian diet prevents them from achieving their ideal health by denying them the nutrients found through scavenging around the farm, barnyard and pasture.

Compared to eggs from conventionally raised, caged hens, eggs produced by free-roaming and pasture-pecking chickens have more omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and vitamin A, along with notably higher amounts of folic acid and vitamin B12. Direct sunlight also acts as a nutrient and naturally boosts egg production.”

Remember, chickens, fed an unnatural diet, are rarely healthy. Neither are their offspring. The same applies to us humans. If we are eating foods that are not inherently natural and God-made, then we will not be healthy! But, that’s for another article.

Your Take Away – What to do about buying eggs…

So now that you know that an egg is not an egg, is not an egg, is not an egg…what should you do? Well again, I’m glad you asked! Here are my recommendations:

  1. First choice is to find a local farmer (via Farmer’s Market, etc.). Get to know him and buy pastured eggs from him.
  2. If you have a Whole Foods or some other Organic, natural type of grocery store, buy the Vital Farms brand of eggs. See their video at the bottom of this article. This is probably your easiest choice, unless you know a farmer.
  3. If you must buy any other eggs, and you know that they are not pastured, free range eggs, then choose organic, cage free. Eat them in moderation.
  4. If your only source of eggs is the typical grocery store (which, to me is a lazy, weak excuse), rarely eat eggs. Remember, their content is going to be significantly less optimal than the best choice.

Video of Pastured Eggs from Vital Farms:

As always, your thoughts, comments and suggestions are welcomed.

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