Without a doubt, fresh, pastured eggs are superior in taste and nutrition to conventionally raised commercially available varieties. Eggs have been a highly valued foods since the beginning of time—eggs from chickens, ducks, geese, turtles and fish. Egg yolks are the richest source of two superstar carotenoids—lutein and zeaxanthin.
Besides providing all eight essential proteinbuilding amino acids, a large whole, fresh egg offers about six to seven grams of protein and five grams of fat (with about 1.5 grams of it saturated), which comes in handy to help in the absorption of all the egg’s fat-soluble vitamins. One egg also serves up around 200 milligrams of brain-loving cholesterol and contains the valuable vitamins A, K, E, D, B-complex and minerals iron, phosphorus, potassium and calcium.10 Choline, another egg-nutrient, is a fatty substance found in every living cell and is a major component of our brain. Additionally, choline helps break up cholesterol deposits by preventing fat and cholesterol from sticking to the arteries.10,14 So the bottom line is, don’t be chicken about eating eggs, especially the cholesterol-rich yolks!
Compared to the generic supermarket variety, eggs from pastured poultry are a vivid yellow-orange—proof of a richer store of healthenhancing carotenes (more specifically xanthophylls, a natural yellow-orange pigment in green plants and yellow corn).11,12 The more carotenes, the darker, deeper orange color the yolk—and the higher the levels of fat-soluble vitamins as well. Expect to find the richest orange colors in the spring, when grass is fresh and bugs are plentiful. Color also fades as the egg ages. Bear in mind, variations will be seen in these differences due to the breed and age of chickens, their diet (grass, insects, and feed) and the season.
When left to their own scavenger instincts, being the omnivores they are, chickens eat bugs, worms (and even snakes if given the opportunity), grasses and nutritious herbs such as plantain leaves and wilted nettle—both of which boost egg production and yolk hue. While these feathered friends will eat the grain and pellets left in the feed trough, it certainly isn’t their ideal food. Remember, chickens are omnivores, not vegetarians as many people assume, meaning they are designed to consume foods from both animal and plant sources. Subjecting chickens to a strictly vegetarian diet prevents them from achieving their ideal health by denying them the nutrients found through scavenging around the farm, barnyard and pasture.
Compared to eggs from conventionallyraised, caged hens, eggs produced by free-roaming and pasture-pecking chickens have more omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and vitamin A,12 along with notably higher amounts of folic acid and vitamin B12.13 Direct sunlight also acts as a nutrient and naturally boosts egg production.14 So get your girls out of doors as much as possible!