Eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense foods there is. The perfect package of protein and fats all rolled up in one neat little, portable package. The quality of the egg matters, though. There are bad eggs, good eggs and the best eggs, all available at your local grocery store.

Bad eggs aren’t rotten. They simply do not contain the right nutrients to get a stamp of approval from any functional practitioner. These eggs, which are usually white, are the cheap ones found for around $1.50 per dozen at the grocery store and were laid by hens that are kept in cages in mass-production facilities where the birds don’t get sunlight or access to grass and fresh air. Bad eggs are bad because they don’t offer much nutrition and even contain some questionable components. The yolks of bad eggs are flaccid and light yellow which is an indicator of the low levels of vitamins, including A, D, E and K as well as low choline levels they contain. The fats in them are closer to 1 omega-3 to 19 omega-6, making them a contributor to inflammation, and though they do contain protein, they may contain components of grains that highly allergic people are sensitive to. In addition to that, the grain that is fed to these hens has a higher amount of arsenic, which is passed on to the people who eat them. Cheap eggs aren’t worth buying.

Good eggs are the next level you can buy. These eggs are sold with the catchphrase “cage-free” or “free-range” in their title and are a step up from “bad eggs” because they have a little more nutritional value than the lower quality eggs discussed earlier. The hens that lay cage-free or free-range eggs are given a little access to the great outdoors and fresh air and water. These eggs have a bit more vibrancy to the yolk and are a little more nutrient-rich. There is a better ratio of fats (omega-3s to omega-6s) and more vitamins (A, D, E, and K as well as choline) which is why they have a little more height to the yolk and are a deeper yellow color. If budget is an issue, this is the cheapest I would go, but there may still be a concern for individuals with strong grain allergies because the hens that produce these eggs are still fed with grain. It is really important to get organic if you are going to buy eggs that were produced by hens fed grain. Arsenic is a known component of conventional chicken feed and that arsenic gets passed from the chicken into the egg, which people then consume.

The best option and bang for your buck is pasture-raised eggs. These eggs have the best nutritional content available and provide consumers with three to four times the vitamin A, D, E, and K and choline content plus a 1:1 of omega-3 and-6, which is ideal. When you crack these beauties into a pan, notice the dark golden-orange yolk that defies gravity. If you don’t believe me, invest in a carton of pasture-raised eggs from a reputable farmer one time and do a side by side comparison. You will see the difference in the pan! These eggs are full of nutrients that support health and vitality with every bite. Hens that are allowed to free-range and eat all the bugs, grass and grubs they want are happier, live longer and produce higher-quality eggs that you won’t regret spending the money on. Pay now (for quality food) or pay later (for health care) as the adage goes.

One last note. Chickens are not vegetarians. Eggs that boast “vegetarian fed hens” are eggs you need to avoid. Did you notice that earlier I said chickens that can scratch around freely in search of bugs, grass and grubs produce the best quality eggs? That means hens eat animal protein in the form of bugs. Chickens are omnivores. They must have access to their natural food sources to be able to produce delicious, health-promoting eggs. Pasture-raised eggs are the tastiest eggs I have ever eaten! Restricting hens to grain and corn scratch is not natural for the bird and limits their health and lifespan. I once witnessed a hen chase, fight for and swallow whole a mouse and then happily go about her day. Those eggs were packed with health-supporting nutrients and were worth their weight in gold! Let that be some food for thought.

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