Are eggs that come from organic and free range hens better for you in the long run…?
With so much noise about Prop 2 in the news lately, it’s hard not to get in on the debate about the humane treatment of egg laying hens. But the other side of the issue – the one that doesn’t get quite as much press – is the nutritional value of the actual eggs. Are eggs that come from organic and free range hens better for you in the long run than conventional eggs that come from battery caged chickens? The answer would appear to be yes, although studies are still ongoing.
Just to recap: free range organic eggs come from hens that are allowed access to the outdoors at least part of the day, with an all-vegetarian diet that contains no chemicals, GMOs, antibiotics or pesticides, according to the Humane Society. They are encouraged to graze on pastures, and some farmers actually rotate their sheds throughout the year to ensure growth through all areas.
On the flip side, hens raised in small battery cages are subjected to cramped conditions that do not allow for access to the outdoors or any space to move about and stretch. They are fed a diet consisting of hormones, pesticides and antibiotics. This is in direct contrast with free range organic hens that are given only all-natural feed supplements with pasture grazing.
The health benefits of free range eggs are clear. Studies show they contain two times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids, three times more vitamin E, up to seven times more pro-vitamin A beta-carotene, ¼ less saturated fat and 1/3 less cholesterol, according to Health Ambition. They may also contain six times more vitamins D and B. You can protect your vision with free range eggs, as well, which are thought to contain high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, essential for eye health.
The American Heart Association recommends consuming less saturated fat and cholesterol to slash the risk of heart disease and stroke. One way to do that is to eat eggs that come from hens feeding on a natural diets of grains, green plants and insects. Those benefits get passed on to the consumer in the form of lowered cholesterol – an already-sensitive issue with egg consumption.
On the surface of it, you can say organic free range eggs are better than conventional ones from a nutritional and humane standpoint. However, because this industry is so poorly regulated and enforced, you have to do your own research into where you’re buying your free range organic eggs. Make sure they bear the certified label and know your sources. As consumers, we have a choice when we hit the supermarket. Making the right choice for your health and your family is a highly personal one. It can only be assumed that more studies will be released in the near future as to the efficacy of free range eggs over conventional.