When you go to the groceries or the farmer’s market to purchase eggs, you’re probably always overwhelmed by the variety available. Nowadays, there are many types of eggs available. You’re in fact spoilt for a choice during your purchase. However, it can be hard to understand the difference between these varieties and the health benefits they offer. The common eggs varieties include regular, organic, free-range, cage-free, and Omega-3 eggs. Understanding their difference will help you choose the eggs of the highest quality and those with most health benefits.
This article discusses each of these egg types, what makes them unique, their difference, and their health benefits.
• Organic Eggs
Organic eggs are eggs laid by hens that are raised in free-range housing systems. In other words, they are kept cage-free with outdoor access. These hens are only fed with organic feed; meaning feed that has not been grown with herbicides, pesticides, or any commercial fertilizers. These hens are also fed a diet free of animal by-products and are not administered any antibiotics except during an infectious outbreak. They must be provided with clean, fresh water at all times. These chickens are not given growth hormones.
Organic hens must meet the health and welfare standards with natural light doors, open-range barns, free access to outdoor pastures, and must always be provided with nests, perches, and litter.
Farmers must adhere to all organic regulations before they are given the “Organic” label.
Organic Eggs Health Benefits
Organic eggs are by far the most popular eggs today due to their numerous health benefits.
Organic eggs are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain function and growth, reduction of inflammation, and are effective in protecting against chronic illnesses such as heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. They are also low in fat, mainly because the hens are fed with fed with organic feed, unlike conventional eggs where hens are fed with grains and other fattening feeds. The hens also get the opportunity to move around, which reduces the fat content in eggs as more fat is burned.
Organic eggs are also loaded with vitamins. In fact, it has been found that organic eggs contain two-thirds more Vitamin A compared to other types. They also contain significant amounts of Vitamin B12.They are also packed with high-quality protein and minerals such as iron, phosphorous, and riboflavin.
Regular eggs are less nutritious compared to organic or free-range eggs. Their protein content is much lower and they cost less than other eggs. They have not been enriched with any nutrients. Most people often shun these eggs due to their low-nutritional value.
Free-range hens are not only cage-free, but are also allowed to access the outdoors. You should know that by being allowed to access the outdoors doesn’t mean that they were pastured. It means that they had the option to go outdoors.
Free-range hens are fed animal byproducts, GMO crops, and are given antibiotics. They are provided with nests, perches, and litter.
Free-range eggs have more Omega-3 fatty acids, more high-quality proteins, more vitamins, less fat, and less cholesterol compared to caged eggs.
Cage-free hens are not confined in cages. They are raised in open barns where they roam freely and spread their wings, unlike their caged counterparts. They are not in any way given access to the outdoors. They are usually provided with nest boxes, perches, and litter. They are fed with inorganic feed and given antibiotics.
Cage-free eggs are also packed with vitamins, Omega-3, minerals, and have significantly lower fat and cholesterol compared to the caged eggs. However, organic eggs contain more nutrients compared to cage-free eggs. They also contain pesticides and other toxins from animal byproduct feed compared to organic eggs.
Omega-3 Enriched Eggs
Omega-3 enriched eggs are those eggs produced by hens that were fed a diet rich in Omega-3 such as flaxseeds and algae. That’s the only difference between them and regular eggs. Their Omega-3 content is much higher and you can therefore purchase them if you need to up your intake of these fatty acids.
Hens fed with Omega-3 feeds are usually confined to cages and are provided with nests, perches, and litter.
Tips for Buying the Right Eggs
Now that you understand the difference between all types of eggs, selecting your most preferred choice the next time you visit the groceries will be much easier. However, there are various things you should look out for or rather pay attention to when purchasing eggs; whether free-range, cage-free, Omega-3 enriched or regular eggs. Below are a few tips that will help you get the best quality eggs.
• Select eggs with clean, uncracked shells: Don’t just select an egg carton and pay without inspecting them. Always take time to open the carton and inspect each egg for cracks or dirt. This is because Salmonella, the common bacteria in eggs, usually lives on the exterior of the eggshell and may travel to the interior through the cracks.
• Only Choose Eggs From Refrigerated Cases: Eggs kept in refrigerated cases prevent the multiplication of Salmonella, which commonly causes severe stomach complications.
• Don’t Buy Out-of-Date Eggs: Always check the expiry date of the eggs in the egg carton before purchasing. After their expiry, the yolk often becomes flatter, larger, and more easily broken as it absorbs a lot of water from the egg white.
• Check the Certification Mark: The certification mark usually signifies that the eggs have been examined and certified to meet strict quality standards. Be sure to check the label properly before purchasing.
• Choose the Most Suitable Sizes: Eggs come in a variety of sizes; from small, medium, to large. Depending on your needs, choose the most suitable sizes. For example, choose large eggs for applications such as cake baking or pancakes.
• Only Choose Certified Organic Eggs: Not all eggs with “organic” labels are actually organic. Some crooked farmed place fake labels to dupe buyers into purchasing them since they cost a little more and are often in demand.
• Select Small to Medium Organic Eggs: Small or medium organic eggs tend to have thicker shells compared to larger eggs. They are also less likely to be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.
Now that you have a clear picture of what all these egg-terms really mean, it will be much easier to purchase the best quality and healthiest eggs.