Until recently, egg yolks had been given a bad reputation for elevating people’s blood cholesterol levels. Numerous studies have, however, proven that egg yolks, and other sources of dietary cholesterol, are not responsible for elevating blood cholesterol levels.
In fact, egg whites and yolks contain healthy protein and vitamins that your body requires.
If you’ve decided to make some healthy changes in your lifestyle and diet, the addition of one egg per day is a suitable option for most healthy individuals. If you are adopting a clean-eating diet, you are undoubtedly interested in knowing where your food comes from, and how it was produced.
Unless you are raising your own laying hens, you will have to buy your eggs at the supermarket. This is where it can become confusing. You should be looking for eggs that are produced by healthy chickens that are treated humanely. Healthy, happy chickens mean healthier eggs, and the satisfaction of knowing that you are contributing to a better overall world for animals and humankind.
So what do the labels on egg cartons mean?
Of course, it will depend on what country you live in, so this is a general guide.
Free Range –
This refers to hens being able to roam free outdoors, where they can eat other plants and insects. However, just because it is free range doesn’t mean that the hens actually get outdoors. If they are living in crowded conditions, then they may not be able to get outdoors when the door is open, nor does it address how big the area is that they can roam outside.
Cage Free –
This means that the hens are not confined to cages. However, just because they are not in cages, does not necessarily mean that they are happy chickens. This is because cage-free barns can still be very crowded.
Organic refers to the feed of the laying hens. It means that they have received organic feed that is free of animal byproducts, sewage sludge, pesticides, and fertilizer, as examples. Organic also means cage-free. However, it doesn’t indicate whether these hens are allowed to roam outdoors freely. It is important to note that chickens are not treated with growth hormones in the US, however, they are sometimes given antibiotics if required. Organic eggs may come from chickens treated with antibiotics.
Omega 3’s –
These essential fatty acids are unable to be produced by your body, and as a result, you need to consume them from sources in your diet. As you probably already know, you can also buy eggs that contain Omega 3’s. The laying hens are provided with feed that contains Omega 3’s. This may be one way to get more Omega 3’s in your diet, but it is not easy to know how much you are actually getting in the eggs. In this case, it may be better to get your Omega 3’s in other dietary sources such as fatty fish (tuna, salmon, etc.) or by supplementing with a high-quality, mercury-free Omega 3.
Instead of using the above confusing labels, look for animal welfare labels that are more indicative of how laying hens are raised and treated. For example, you can look for eggs labeled Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) or certified by Humane Farm Animal Care. Again, check the labeling that your particular country uses.
You can see why more people are building chicken coops in their own backyards. Some cities are now allowing it. However, if you do have to buy your eggs, it is best to do some research about the farm from which you are buying. If possible, visit the farm so that you can see how the chickens are being treated. Get to know a local farmer that you can trust, and from whom you can purchase your eggs. This way, you can ensure that the eggs you are consuming are coming from healthy, happy chickens.