How to Choose Your Eggs
How to Choose Your Eggs
There are so many different kinds of eggs out there right now – cage-free, organic, the store brand… which ones are the best? It depends on what you want.
Eggs are nutritious, filling, economical, versatile, and delicious. In general, a large egg contains: 70 calories, 1-2 gram of saturated fat (4-5 total fat), 180-215mg of cholesterol, 65mg of naturally-occurring sodium, 0 carbs, 6 grams of protein, and is loaded with vitamins and minerals.
Now go to the refrigerator and check out your eggs – what grade are they? Grade A means the white is somewhat firm and the yolk is high and round. Grade AA means the yolk is high and round and the white is firm and thick. Most eggs on your grocer’s shelf will be A, but you can find AA if you look around. Eggs with a watery white indicate an aging product that won’t be as fresh.
Now that we have grading covered, here are your options:
Cage-free: The hens are not caged but they are not necessarily allowed access to the outdoors either. Usually they live in open structures. Check the carton for information pertaining to what the hens are fed. Look for a 100% vegetarian diet, no hormones, no antibiotics.
Free-range: The hens live outdoors or are given some access to the outdoors. Check the carton for information pertaining to what the hens are fed. Again, look for a 100% vegetarian diet, no hormones, no antibiotics.
Organic: The hens are fed a 100% organic diet (vegetarian with no animal fats or by-products) and are not given antibiotics or hormones. When a carton of eggs says “100% natural” that does not necessarily mean certified organic. Notice that organic does not mean range or cage-free. Organic does not pertain to the hens living conditions, they could be caged.
Pastured: The hens are raised in pastures and allowed to eat grasses and bugs. These eggs taste the best and are the freshest, because you usually find them at your local farmers market.
Enriched or fortified:The hens are fed a special diet fortified with things like DHA (an omega 3 fat) vitamin E, B vitamins, and lutein. The feed alters the nutrition profile of the egg, resulting in an egg with less saturated fat and cholesterol than its store-brand counterpart. The hen’s diet is usually 100% vegetarian and there are no added hormones or antibiotics. Again, notice that living conditions of the hens are not defined. They are probably caged.
As you can see, eggs are different and can vary in quality and taste, so a little knowledge in your head while you stare at all the options can go a long way.