The Best Guide to Choosing the Right Eggs

There are so many different types of eggs to choose from and with all the different languages used on the cartons, it’s hard to tell which one is best for you. Luckily, this guide is here to help you choose what type of egg to buy.

Cage-Free

While it’s true that the chickens have not been kept in cages, they are still likely to be in cramped, dark barns, where their wings and their beaks have probably been clipped. So even though they aren’t in cages, it’s still not very humane. Also, the more stress the chickens are under, the less nutritious your eggs will be because of their stress, so it’s something to consider. 

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Free Range

Again, this doesn’t mean that the chickens are outside all the time; rather, they are allowed to be outside for a certain period of time.

Organic

All this refers to is the kind of food the chickens have been given. Organic eggs come from chickens that have only been fed organic food, which means there are no unnatural antibiotics in them. 

Pasture Raised

Though these are harder to find and usually very expensive, pasture-raised chickens are allowed to graze on pastures their whole life.

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When it comes to eggs, quality counts. Eggs from chickens raised on pasture (meaning outdoors, in grass, pecking at insects, and enjoying the sunlight) are not only less likely to harbor salmonella (7x less!), they’re also more nutrient-dense.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The egg on the left is from my friend's pasture-raised chickens; on the right is from conventionally-raised hens.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ A few ways eggs from pastured chickens are superior:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ – Vitamin A content is 30% higher, which is clearly visible from the rich orange color of the yolks. The more fresh greens/grasses & bugs a chicken eats, the higher the vitamin A levels. Vitamin A is crucial for eye and lung development, among many other functions.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ – Vitamin E content is 2x higher⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ – Omega-3 content is 2.5x higher, while omega-6 fats are found in lower levels, which is favorable, since these fats tend to cause inflammation (Eggs from pastured chickens have less than half the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids).⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ – Vitamin D content is 3-6 times higher due to regular sun exposure (They make vitamin D in their skin, combs, and in their feathers; the latter is ultimately consumed when they preen—interesting, right?!).⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The nutrients discussed above are found primarily in the egg yolk, so do eat the WHOLE egg, otherwise you miss out on the benefits. There’s a reason eggs comes with yolks, after all.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Regardless of how the chickens are raised, eggs are still incredibly nutrient-dense, so even if you can’t access pasture-raised eggs, don’t miss out on the benefits of eating eggs in pregnancy, both for you and your unborn child.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ For what it's worth, I couldn't regularly access pasture raised eggs in my first pregnancy. Ideal? No. But I still ate eggs regularly for the myriad of nutrients & health benefits. We're all doing the best that we can.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ For more on eggs, see Ch 3 of Real Food for Pregnancy. Also see my lengthy blog post on choline & pregnancy: https://lilynicholsrdn.com/choline-pregnancy-folates-cousin/

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