Eggs – the essential pantry staple. They are a baker’s best friend, an instant meal and part of your complete breakfast. From ramen to homemade pizza, these versatile orbs are the crowning jewel to most any dish. Not to mention the health benefits. With just 77 calories, 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of healthy fats, eggs are an excellent (and inexpensive) source of protein.
Put your eggs in one basket:
Unfortunately, the bad egg myth persists due to high cholesterol levels. The thing is, eggs raise HDL (the “good” cholesterol). In one study, 2 eggs per day for 6 weeks increased HDL levels by 10%. This is big news because people who have higher levels of HDL usually have a lower risk of heart disease and strokes. Still not convinced? Besides being rich in nutrients (Vitamin A, D, B5, B12, B2 to name a few) eggs are also filled with nutrients that you probably haven’t heard of like Choline, Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Choline is used to build cell membranes and has a role in producing signaling molecules in the brain while Lutein and Zeaxanthin are important for healthy eyes. A single egg has 100 mg of Choline and studies have shown that eating just 1 egg yolk per day significantly increased levels of Lutein and Zeaxanthin.
There’s a lot of bad eggs out there:
The trick to eating a good egg is learning how to pick them. When you have a healthy egg for the first time it’s almost alarming. The yolk is SO orange it looks like a mistake. But it’s not. A dark orange yolk and thick shell is an indication of a hen’s well balanced diet, something that was the norm back in the early 1900’s before the invention of hen factories. Thanks to industrial production, the light-yellow yolks and thin shells that have become the new norm are direct results of the inhumane living conditions of modern day hens. If you haven’t seen the videos of overcrowded chicken coops full of genetically modified birds, this is worth a watch. But what can you expect? Sad chickens living in abysmal conditions produce sad eggs.
Find the golden egg:
With so many inhumane farming conditions in America, it has become harder to find healthy eggs. This is why it’s so important to look for pastured, hormone-free, humane and organic eggs. Better yet, find out if there is a chicken farm near you that sells fresh farm eggs. Additionally, lots of people have started raising chickens in their backyards. If you’re lucky, perhaps you have a neighbor who has some eggs to share. However, until we’re all able to raise our own heirloom chickens that we feed with natural and organic food (or have a neighbor who does), here are some tips on how to choose your eggs wisely:
- Always purchase eggs from pastured hens. These chickens have access to the outdoors, sunlight and pastures where they can eat grubs, worms and bugs and generally do not receive hormones or antibiotics. These eggs are higher in nutrients than industrially raised commercial eggs.
- If possible, buy your pastured eggs locally from small farms.
- Make sure to double check that the hens are not supplemented with any GMO grains. Ask the farmer what feed they use, if any.
- Be wary of terms like “vegetarian fed”. Hens are not natural vegetarians. They, like us, are omnivores who ought to eat bugs, worms and other creatures for health. “Vegetarian fed” usually denotes the use of soy/corn and these are almost universally genetically modified (GMO).
- Don’t settle for “Cage-free”. This term can often mean that the hens are free to roam in a large barn or building but fails to note that these buildings are usually dark, cramped and dirty with no access to the outdoors.
- Don’t be duped by “Free-range”. Similar to “cage-free” birds, these chickens may also be raised in large barns with a small door that leads outside where they may find a concrete pad and no grass. Often these birds never make it outside during their short lives.
- Birds raised either “cage-free” or “free range” may also be exclusively fed grains like corn/soy that are almost certainly GMO.
- If you absolutely cannot find pastured eggs, choose Organic Omega-3 eggs. These hens have at least been given flax meal (and should not have been fed GMO grains) which increases the Omega-3 content of their eggs.
Nutrients in 1 egg: (RDA = recommended dietary allowances)
- Vitamin A: 6% of the RDA.
- Folate: 5% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B5: 7% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B12: 9% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B2: 15% of the RDA.
- Phosphorus: 9% of the RDA.
- Selenium: 22% of the RDA.
- Eggs also contain decent amounts of Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium and Zinc.
Egg farms we love:
Pete and Gerrys, NH and nationwide
Vital Farms, TX and nationwide
More ways to love your eggs:
Eggs Three Ways, your go-to guide for perfecting the basics.
Clover Club, the most fun you can have while drinking an egg white.
Photo by Lee O’Connor