When you walk into a grocery store and head to the egg section, there are always multiple options to select. When you’re in a hurry, you might not have the time to contemplate what option is the most sustainable, humane or the right choice, health wise, for you. So, let’s break down these common claims in order for you to make an egg-celent choice the next time your in a grocery store.
The “Organic” claim is the only regulated claim. Here the hens must have specific amounts of space to roam within a barn with access to move outdoors freely and graze on pesticide-free pasture. Their diet is an organic, non-GMO vegetarian feed. Antibiotics are not permitted.
The unregulated “Free Range” claim hopefully has hens living in a large open-concept barn with access to daylight or the outdoors…but how many hens are living in one barn? Overcrowding might still be a concern. Or how long are the hens allowed outside? A minute? An hour? Their diet includes conventional feed with animal by-products, as an extra source of protein. Unfortunately, antibiotics are not regulated under this claim.
The unregulated “Free Run” claim hopefully has hens roaming free in an open-concept barn but again overcrowding is an issue and they are not allowed outside. Their diet is similar to the “Free Range” hens.
Egg cartons that have no claims are from hens that are caged is tiny, overcrowded crates and are fed the same diet as the “Free Range” and “Free Run” hens.
You might also see eggs labeled as “Vitamin D” or “Omega-3”. What separates these egg varieties from the others is the hens’ diet. Hen’s producing these eggs are often fed a diet similar to the conventional “Free Range” and “Free Run” hens but are supplemented with plant sources of vitamin D or flax seed for omega-3.
However, I’m skeptical of how much of these nutrients are passed along to the consumer…if a hen eats some flax seeds then lays an egg, how much omega-3 can we really expect to consume from that one egg? Apparently, one omega-3 fortified egg contains 340 milligrams of ALA (plant source of omega-3) and 75 to 100 milligrams of DHA (oily fish source of omega-3).
There is no official recommended intake for DHA and EPA (the other omega-3 in oily fish). Many experts recommend a daily intake of 1,000 mg of DHA + EPA (combined) for heart health. Therefore, eating an omega-3 egg each day will deliver only a fraction of this amount. Depending on your diet, you might not need to pay extra for omega-3 eggs. If oily fish is a regular part of your diet or you take a fish-oil supplement, eating an omega-3 egg now and again won’t do much to boost your DHA intake
Eggs are a part of a healthy diet. The egg yolk is a great source of Vitamins A, D, E & B12, riboflavin, selenium and folate. While the egg white provides a good source of high-quality protein.
Not too long ago, the egg industry suffered from bad press surrounding dietary cholesterol and heart disease. Today’s research shows that there are lots of reasons why you may have high blood cholesterol levels such as genetics or body weight. To make a long story short…everyone can now enjoy one whole egg per day or two eggs every other day!
Eggs are part of healthy eating for children too! They are nutritious and provide a good amount of quality protein. According to Canada’s new infant-feeding guidelines infants can eat whole eggs at 6 months.
Here are three new ways to cook or eat eggs:
- Add soy sauce to cooked eggs because it’s delicious
- On top of your next home-made pizza
- Make mini frittatas in a muffin tin so that they’re in easy to-go portions