In a nutshell…
Eggs are good for you. Eat’em up. And eggs from pasture-raised chickens are the best. Happy chickens = nutritious eggs = healthy us.
In the past, people have considered eggs to be unhealthy, thinking that egg consumption raised your cholesterol and contributed to heart disease. But now the consensus is changing with most agreeing that eggs are a healthy addition to your diet. Many even classify them as a superfood.
Here are 10 health benefits of eating eggs:
1. An egg a day may prevent macular degeneration due to the carotenoid content.
2. Carotenoid contains lutein and zeaxanthin, both help lower the risk of developing cataracts.
3. One egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and all nine essential amino acids.
4. According to a Harvard School of Public Health study, there is no significant link between egg consumption and heart disease. In fact, according to one study, regular consumption of eggs may help prevent blood clots, strokes and heart attacks.
5. One egg yolk has about 300 micrograms of choline, a nutrient that helps regulate the brain, nervous system, and cardiovascular system.
6. Despite the hoopla of eggs being high in fat, they contain natural, healthy fat.
7. New research shows that moderate consumption of eggs does not have a negative impact on cholesterol. In fact, recent studies have shown that regular consumption of two eggs per day does not affect a person’s lipid profile and may, in fact, improve it.
8. Eggs are one of the only foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D.
9. Eggs may prevent breast cancer. In one study, women who consumed at least six eggs per week lowered their risk of breast cancer by 44%.
10. Eggs promote healthy hair and nails because of their high sulphur content and wide array of vitamins and minerals. NC State University
Besides these ten reasons for eating eggs, they are satiating, which means they help you to feel full. Eating eggs at breakfast helps to limit your calorie intake all day, which may help you to lose weight. Best Health Mag
What kind of eggs are the healthiest to eat?
Eggs from pasture-raised (pastured) chickens that are supplemented with organic feed are the healthiest. This means chickens that spend the majority of their day outside in the sun eating natural food such as seeds, grass, legumes, bugs, and worms. The labeling on store-bought eggs can be misleading. To ensure the healthiest chickens and eggs, it’s best to see the environment the chickens are living in.
Mother Earth News did a study on the health differences between eggs from hens raised on pasture vs. eggs from hens in factory farms and found that the eggs from pastured hens are far more nutritious. Eggs from pastured hens may contain: 1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, and 7 times more beta carotene. Mother Earth News
Where can I get pastured eggs?
Start asking around. I buy my pastured eggs from my neighbor who sells me the surplus eggs her family can’t eat. But I’m lucky to live in a rural area where a lot of people have chickens. She lives just down the street and has a great little coop with a fenced-in pasture area where her chickens and goats can roam and eat grass and bugs.
It’s a pretty perfect set-up for now, but as our family gets bigger I know we’ll want more eggs than what her hens provide. When she doesn’t have any eggs for me, I buy them from the Real Foods Market in either Heber or Sugar House. But Real Foods doesn’t always have them in, so be sure and call ahead. I hope to get my own chickens soon. Stay tuned!
Find a local farmer’s market in your area and ask the egg providers if their hens are pasture-raised and what they feed their chickens; especially if you want to avoid genetically modified soy and corn feed.
What do all the different labels on egg cartons mean?
Cage-free: hens are not kept in cages, but does not exclude indoor confinement; the term “barn roaming” may more accurately describe most cage-free hens.
Free-range: hens must have access to the outdoors during the day; in many instances the access is such that the chickens never go outside.
Organic: requires feeding with certified organic feed (grown without commercial fertilizers or pesticides) and the chickens are not given antibiotics or hormones, but does not require a fixed amount of feed to be obtained from a pasture setting.
Omega-3 enhanced: hens’ diets are supplemented with omega-3 oils added to their feed including menhaden oil, krill oil, flaxseed oil, and algae oil, which dramatically increase the omega-3 fats in the egg yolk.
Although buying eggs with these labels may be better than buying your average factory eggs, they’re only slightly better. What comes to mind when you see the word “free-range” is drastically different than the conditions most “free-range” chickens are living in. And interestingly, when a hen is allowed to forage in a pasture containing greens like clover and alfalfa, her natural diet increases the omega-3s in her eggs. So rather than adding possibly processed oils to an already unnatural diet to boost nutrition, it’s best to rely on pasture-raised eggs for natural omega-3s. World’s Healthiest Foods
Should I eat only the egg whites, only the yolk, or both together?
Eating only egg whites was a movement that came from the belief that eating the egg yolk causes heart disease and obesity. Since we now know that this is not true, the egg white only trend is dissipating.
In contrast, some people now eat only the egg yolk because of the risk of biotin deficiency when eating whole raw eggs. Although egg yolks contain large amounts of biotin, egg whites contain a glycoprotein called avidin, which bonds with biotin, preventing the nutrient’s absorption. However, avidin is generally inactivated when cooked, which makes the biotin in the yolk fully available for absorption by the body. So, if you’re going to eat raw eggs, you may want to eat the egg yolks only and cook up the whites separately. Another option is to eat the raw egg whole and increase your dietary intake of biotin rich foods such as swiss chard, tomatoes, carrots, and liver–to name a few.
Is it better to eat eggs that are raw or cooked?
I think there are benefits to both, so it’s a personal decision. And you don’t have to stick to one or the other–eating some raw and some cooked eggs can give you the benefits of both.
Many people choose to eat their eggs raw because some nutrients can be diminished through heating. This happens when you cook almost anything, but there is a flip side–cooking makes some nutrients more bioavailable. One study suggests that egg protein is more digestible when heated. NPR News
There is always the looming concern of getting salmonella from eating raw eggs. If you’re worried about this, then don’t feel bad about always cooking your eggs, but the risk is actually very small. Consuming eggs from healthier sources, such as pasture-raised hens vs. battery cage hens will also decrease your chance of getting salmonella. Mark’s Daily Apple
You can see the pasture-raised difference!
Here are eggs from four different sources. From left to right: pasture-raised organic egg from my neighbor, pasture-raised organic egg from Vital Farms that I bought at Whole Foods, Kirkland cage-free organic egg from Costco, and a regular ol’ Grade AA egg from Smith’s.
See that big orange yolk on the left from my neighbor’s hen? Her hens have a large pasture area to roam around in and eat bugs and grass. This is the result. Her hen’s eggs are full of natural omega-3s, vitamins, and nutrients, which results in a deep orange yolk. The quality of the hen’s environment and feed makes a difference in the product you eat!
Tip: Eat eggs for breakfast. They’ll keep you full until lunch. No cravings means less snacking on processed food, which may result in weight loss and will result in a healthier you.