Eggs are a staple to weekend brunches and easy morning breakfasts. They are often incorporated into a variety of recipes from your banana bread to chocolate cake, baked quiches to your cheese frittatas. However, what kind of eggs should we be shopping for? Do they all have the same nutritional value? What egg is the best quality for your type of cooking?
A single egg provides a wide range of nutrients and health benefits.
· Antioxidants such as zeaxanthin and lutein which strength the retina
· B Vitamins help convert food to energy and boosts metabolism
· Vitamin D regulates the neuromuscular and immune system
· Phosphorus helps with the growth and repair of tissues and cells
· Selenium helps the thyroid gland and reproductive system run properly
· Folate is important for pregnant women as it contributes to the health of the fetus
Brown vs. white
The only thing that impacts the color is the breed of the hen. A white-feathered hen lays white eggs. A brown or red-feathered hen lays brown eggs.
Types of eggs
There are different types of eggs, which may get confusing when deciding which one to purchase. The differences come down to how the chickens were raised and fed.
1. Conventional eggs are your standard white eggs. These hens are typically raised in a cage or hen house and don’t roam the outdoors. They are fed grain-based feed and supplemented with vitamins and minerals. These hens may also be treated with antibiotics and hormones.
2. Organic eggs were not treated with any unnatural antibiotics or hormones. These hens also receive organic feed but may have limited outdoor access.
3. Cage-free simply state they are not raised in a cage but may still be raised in a stuffed hen house.
4. Free range means there is an option for the hens to go outside. When a chicken is in a confined environment, you won’t get the most nutritious egg. The option for the hen to go outside may contribute to the increased quality and taste of the egg. The animal will produce less stress hormones and have fewer periods of illnesses than other hens.
5. Pasture-raised eggs come from hens that are able to roam in open grassland. They are free to feed on plants, seeds, insects, and worms found in nature.
6. Omega-3 enriched eggs are similar to conventional hens except their feed includes an omega-3 source such as flax seeds. However, if you need more omega-3’s in your diet, you will reap a bigger benefit consuming wild fish or grass-fed meats instead.
If you are baking a cake you can go with a slightly less quality egg than if you were baking an egg based dish or eating it alone.
Although all eggs have similar macronutrient content, there are some minor micronutrient differences. Eggs are a natural high-quality protein source packed with many nutrients. Eggs can play a role in weight management, brain function, eye health and more.