Quantcast
Food

Organic vs. Conventional: Find Out Which Eggs Are Healthiest to Eat

By Kris Gunnars

I love eggs and eat 3-4 of them for breakfast every single day.

I don't lose sleep over it because research shows that they are good for my health.

But depending on what the hens themselves ate, the nutritional value of the eggs can differ greatly.

The Different Types of Eggs Are a Confusing Mess

There are several different types of eggs, which can leave people confused.

Pastured Eggs are the best choice because chickens are allowed to roam free, eating plants and insects. Photo credit:
Photo credit: Shutterstock

What all of them have in common is that they come from chickens, but they vary depending on how the chickens were raised and what they were fed.

  • Conventional Eggs: These are your standard supermarket eggs. The chickens are usually raised in an overfilled hen house or a cage and never see the light of day. They are usually fed grain-based crap, supplemented with vitamins and minerals. May also be treated with antibiotics and hormones.
  • Organic Eggs: Were not treated with antibiotics or hormones and received organic feed. May have had limited access to the outdoors.
  • Pastured Eggs: Chickens are allowed to roam free, eating plants and insects (their natural food) along with some commercial feed.
  • Omega-3 Enriched Eggs: Basically, they're like conventional chickens except that their feed is supplemented with an Omega-3 source like flax seeds. May have had some access to the outside.

Conventional vs. Omega-3 Eggs

A study compared the fatty acid composition of three types of eggs: conventional, organic and omega-3 enriched (1).

  • Omega-3 eggs had 39 percent less arachidonic acid, an inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acid that most people eat too much of.
  • Omega-3 eggs had five times as much Omega-3 as the conventional eggs.
  • There was very little difference between organic and conventional eggs.

It is clear that hens fed an omega-3 enriched diet lay eggs that are much higher in Omega-3 than conventional eggs.

This is important because most people eat too little Omega-3.

Unfortunately this study didn't measure other nutrients, only the fatty acid composition.

Conventional vs. Pastured Eggs

In 2007, Mother Earth News magazine decided to test the nutritional value of pastured eggs and received such eggs from 14 different farms.

They were measured in a chemical lab, then compared to the USDA standard conventional egg.

As you can see, eggs from pastured hens are more nutritious than the conventional eggs you might find at the supermarket.

They are higher in Vitamin A and E and Omega-3s. They are also lower in cholesterol and saturated fat, but I don't think that matters.

A study I found on pastured eggs produced similar results (2).

Other Terms For Eggs

There are other more loose and confusing terms, including Free Range and Cage Free, which may or may not be any better than conventional eggs.

Free Range could mean that there's a small window on the hen house where the hens have the option of going outside.

Cage Free just means that they aren't raised in a cage. They could still be raised in a smelly, dirty overstuffed hen house.

Take Home Message

At the end of the day, pastured eggs are your best bet. They are more nutritious and the hens were allowed free access to the outside and ate a more natural diet.

If you can't get pastured eggs (like me) then Omega-3 enriched eggs will be your second best choice. If you can't get either pastured or Omega-3 eggs, then try to find eggs that are either free-range, cage-free or organic.

But even if that's not an option, then conventional eggs are still among the healthiest and most nutritious foods you can eat.

To sum up:

Pastured > Omega-3 > Organic > Free Range/Cage Free > Conventional

This just goes to show that what we eat isn't all that matters … it also matters what our foods eat.

This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

6 Superfoods to Keep You Healthy All Winter Long

Cranberries: One of the World's Most Powerful Antioxidants

What Is the Alkaline Diet?

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
A snapping turtle held by a Virginia Tech researcher. Virginia Tech

Land Use and Pollution Lead to More Male Snapping Turtle Babies, Researchers Find

The sex of reptiles like snapping turtles is determined by the temperature of the nest, with warmer temperatures leading to female births and colder temperatures leading to male babies. Because of this, climate change is projected to increase the number of female turtle births. However, scientists have discovered that other human impacts on the environment are leading to conditions that actually produce more males.

Keep reading... Show less

Organic Agriculture Is Going Mainstream, But Not the Way You Think It Is

By Jeremy L. Caradonna

One of the biggest knocks against the organics movement is that it has begun to ape conventional agriculture, adopting the latter's monocultures, reliance on purchased inputs and industrial processes.

Keep reading... Show less
View of the UN Bonn Campus on May 16, 2017. UNclimatechange / Flickr

‘Business Unusual’ Must Be the Mantra in Bonn as UN Climate Talks Resume Next Week

As the 2018 climate talks kick off under the auspices of the UN next week, "business unusual" must be the mantra delegations need heard resoundingly in Bonn, said the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Speaking ahead of the start of the meeting, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF's global climate and energy programme leader, said the window of opportunity to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C is fast closing.

Keep reading... Show less
UNAMID provided emergency aid for displaced people in Mellit, North Darfur on April 6, 2014. Hamid Abdulsalam, UNAMID / Flickr

Climate Is a 'Threat Multiplier' But Not Primary Cause of East African Conflict and Displacement, Study Finds

While there are predictions that climate change will displace masses of people in the near future—an Environmental Justice Foundation study reported on by The Guardian put the number in the tens of millions within the next decade—some have indicated that the climate refugee crisis has already begun.

The Syrian civil war has been linked to a massive drought in the region, and former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the conflict in Darfur one of "the first climate wars" in 2007.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Central Park. Ingfbruno / CC BY-SA 3.0

New York's Central Park Is Going Car-Free

One of the world's most iconic parks is going vehicle-free this summer; New York City is banning all cars and trucks from Central Park.

"This park was not built for automobiles," Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday in Central Park. "It was built for people."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Infant receiving polio vaccine. CDC Global / CC BY 2.0

Did the Polio Vaccine Cause Cancer?

By Vanessa Schipani, FactCheck.org

Q: Did people develop cancer because of the polio vaccine?

A: There are no known cases, and it's very unlikely. In the 1950s and 1960s, people did receive polio vaccines contaminated with a virus that causes cancer in rodents. But research suggests this virus doesn't cause cancer in humans.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
The research icebreaker Polarstern in the central Arctic Ocean. Alfred-Wegener-Institute / Ruediger Stein

'Nowhere Is Immune': Researchers Find Record Levels of Microplastics in Arctic Sea Ice

Scientists found record levels of microplastics in Arctic sea ice, a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications revealed.

Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) sampled ice from five Arctic Ocean regions and found up to 12,000 microplastic particles per liter (approximately 1.06 liquid quarts) of ice, an AWI press release reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!