Despite the silly question of which came into existence first, “The chicken or the egg,” eggs come first in nutritional amazingness. I would go as far as to suggest that an egg from a properly raised chicken is the perfect food. That’s why we could eat eggs every day; we typically eat these magical ellipsoids at least a few times per week.
Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrients, and they’re delicious. Win-win. Some of the key benefits include:
- Choline. The brain vitamin, choline is part of the B complex. The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care describes it as “critical for development of the brain… especially important for the formation of cholinergic neurons… which takes place from day fifty-six of pregnancy through three months after birth; and for the formation of the connections between these neurons, called synapses, which occur at a high rate through the fourth year of life.” One egg has 20 percent of the daily recommended requirement.
- Cholesterol. A word that should be celebrated, cholesterol is the building block of every hormone in your body. This essential nutrient has been demonized because of a systematic misunderstanding of what causes heart disease. Read this article if you’re worried about cholesterol.
- Vitamins A, D, K₂ and E. These fat-soluble vitamins are extremely important and severely lacking in the modern diet. Vitamin A is known to be important for the eyes. You know to eat your carrots. Beta-carotene, responsible for the color of carrots, is the pre-cursor to vitamin A. Natural Vitamin A is better because it’s difficult for the body to convert it. It can only be found in nature in animal products like eggs. Think of your eyes when you see the bright color of the yolk.
- Minerals iron, zinc and selenium. Minerals are essential for so many things. Selenium is a strong anti-oxidant and works with vitamin E to keep the heart healthy.
Now it’s time to eat some good eggs. Keep in mind that the color of the egg shell has nothing to do with its quality, it’s just like people.
I look for eggs based on the following criteria (best to last, always shooting for the first three):
- Organic, pasture-raised eggs. This means the chickens that lay them are raised on pasture. These birds are actively moved from one grassy spot to another so they get fresh grass and bugs every day to every couple days. They are fed organic feed to supplement the grass and bugs. This is as good as it gets. See “pastured poultry” in action in this video.
- Non-organic, pasture-raised eggs. Same as above except for the feed. I would prefer these over organic, free-range or cage-free eggs because I think the pasturing is more important than the feed. Farmers who go through the effort to pasture (and it’s a lot of work) are likely using good feed, just stuff that hasn’t passed the expensive certification process.
- Organic, free-range eggs. These chickens have open access to the outdoors, but like most people, they’ll prefer to stay in and lay on the couch. They will deplete the grass near by and eat mostly feed. They will not get nearly as much exercise, fresh air, or sun as a pasture-raised chicken.
- Organic, cage-free eggs. The distinction is that cage-free chickens have access to a “room” where they can stretch their wings. Whether the size of the room is adequate is not considered. Either way, these birds aren’t getting outdoors at all. At least they’re getting natural feed though.
- Non-organic cage-free eggs. At least the producers are trying by giving them a little more space to stretch, but this is very minimal benefit.
- Regular eggs. If I can’t do any better, regular eggs still have benefits. If I’m eating these, I’m also doing everything I can to get out of debt and start making a better living so I can put more into my health budget.
What’s your favorite way to eat eggs?