Eggs come in lots of different colors, but when it comes down to which one is the most healthy, it turns out, they’re all about the same. The color of the egg shell doesn’t affect the nutritional value of the egg. It is actually the diet of the chicken and how it was raised that influences the health benefits of the egg.
Penn State University conducted research to show that eggs from pastured chickens may be higher in certain vitamins and Omega 3 fatty acids. Over a six week period, researchers compared eggs from pastured hens to eggs of hens that were fed a commercial diet in cages.
They found that eggs from pastured hens:
- were 2x higher in Vitamin E
- had more than 2x omega-3 fatty acids
- were nearly 40% higher in Vitamin A
What does this mean?
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and boosts the immune system. Omega-3 fatty acids have been show to improve heart health, reduce inflammation and blood clotting, and lessen the symptoms of diabetes, stroke and some other chronic illnesses. And Vitamin A is important for the immune system as well as vision, reproduction and organ health.
Buying Eggs From Pastured Chickens
Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to know what you’re buying when it comes to eggs. Terms like Pastured, Free-Range, and Cage Free have very little meaning because there are no standard definitions. The best thing to do is shop a local farm stand, farmers market or buy directly from a farmer who can tell you exactly how the chickens were raised and what kind of diet they had.
At Monnett Farms, our chickens are raised on pasture meaning they get to roam around in the field to forage for grasses and scratch for insects. They are mostly free range, though we do keep a electrified mesh fence around their area to keep them safe from predators. The chickens have next boxes inside their coop to lay their eggs.
Chickens that are strictly fed a forage diet are generally lacking in important proteins and will not be as productive. The same study by Penn State University found that pastured hens weighed 14% less and had 15% lower egg production. To keep our hens healthy and productive, we supplement their diet with chicken feed, sourced from a local Amish mill.