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.
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.
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A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
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Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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