Eggcellent!

Eggs are rich in choline – a nutrient receiving much attention for its proposed role in brain function and memory performance. Additionally, eggs contain lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that can preserve eye health and reduce macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness [1].
Recently, the Journal of Nutrition suggested eggs be looked at as a “package deal” – they are inexpensive, contain the highest-quality protein known to man, and are loaded with vital nutrients such as folate, riboflavin, selenium, B12, and choline. For a mere 75 calories, eggs are considered nutrient-dense, low-calorie food that can enhance any menu [1].
But of course, shopping for eggs can be as tricky as every other food product in the grocery store. Free range versus organic versus this versus that. Here’s a Chicago Tribune run-down on 12 “egg terms” to increase your knowledge of eggs and egg shopping [2].
Natural: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service defines “natural” as not containing “any artificial or synthetic ingredients, and it must be minimally processed.” By this definition, almost all eggs would be considered natural.

Free range: Indicates that hens have access to the outdoors, but there are no regulations on the duration or quality of their access.

Pasteurized: Eggs that have been treated with heat to eliminate salmonella bacteria and make them safe to eat raw or undercooked.

Pasture raised: This unregulated term implies that hens are raised outdoors and moved regularly in mobile hen houses to different grassy lots on the farm. This gives them access to a variety of foods found on the ground — bugs, grubs and other small creatures — as well as chicken feed.

Fertile: Hens are raised in barns that also house roosters. The term is unregulated but implies that the hens are uncaged.

Food Alliance certified: According to Food Alliance, their certification requires “Healthy and humane treatment of animals, safe and fair working conditions, soil and water conservation, pest and nutrient management, protection of wildlife habitat and other agricultural concerns.”

Animal Welfare Approved: Hens must be kept cage-free and allowed to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching and dust bathing. Outdoor access is required at all times, and forced molting and beak cutting are prohibited. Certifies mostly family farms.

American Humane Certified: Hens must be kept uncaged, but access to the outdoors is not required. Space requirements allow for natural behaviors. Forced molting is prohibited, but beak trimming is permitted in some cases. AHC has certified about 85 percent of cage-free eggs in the United States.

United Egg Producers Certified: This certification allows hens to be caged, does not require access to the outdoors and does not prohibit beak cutting or forced molting. It does require that hens have “access to clean water and are fed several times a day.” The UEP literature suggests caged hens are safer and healthier than uncaged birds.

Certified Humane Raised and Handled: Hens are uncaged inside barns or warehouses and may have access to the outdoors. Includes space requirements for hens to perform natural behaviors. Forced molting is prohibited, but beak cutting is permitted.

USDA organic: Hens are kept uncaged in barns or warehouses, are allowed access to the outdoors and are fed an organic, vegetarian diet free of antibiotics and pesticides. Forced molting and beak cutting are permitted.

Do you purchase a certain type of egg? Free range? Natural? Pasture raised?
[1]. Callahan, Maureen. 5 foods that should have a place in your diet. Cooking Light; CNN Health. November 6, 2007.
[2]. Eng, Monica. Egg confusion. Chicago Tribune. September 23, 2009.
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8 Comments

Filed under antioxidants, grocery store, minerals, vitamins

8 responses to “Eggcellent!

  1. Gina

    Mmmm…I love eggs! Great informative post. I really did not know what all of those terms meant, thanks 🙂

  2. Michael Edson, MS, L.Ac.

    Eggs are a very good source of lutein, a critical nutrient supporting healthy vision and also helps prevent macular degeneration.Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two carotenoids found in both the retina and lens of the eyes that act as both powerful antioxidants, as well as like a having pair of "internal sunglasses" as they help filter UVA/UVB and blue light.One or both of these nutrients can be found in such foods as green, leafy vegetables, orange and yellow peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, corn and eggs.A number of peer review research studies have shown that supplementing with lutein and zeaxanthin can significantly reduce the changes of getting macular degeneration. Taking fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) daily is also proving invaluable in helping prevent the onset of Macular Degeneration. These nutrients are also essential to take for those with macular degeneration in helping preserve vision as has been shown on the recent AREDS2 study.For more related research studies, see the "Research" section at Natural Eye Care for Macular Degeneration

  3. Anonymous

    Hi Nicole, thanks for explaining American Humane Certified! If anyone would like more information about the program they can contact me at kelleyw@americanhumane.org.

  4. Gina

    Nicole, I must have come off wrong in my comment about journals, as I truly do believe they can be helpful. In fact, I still keep one! All I was saying was that for some people it really does not work, at all. For those who don't mind doing it, it can be a life saver! I'm very type A, so it doesn't bother me a bit. My mom, however, can't keep one for more than a week, and she's been trying to loose weight for years!Thanks for your comment, I like hearing other's opinions.

  5. Chow and Chatter

    cool post and great pic

  6. LMC

    I buy the cheapest eggs! 🙂 It was interesting to hear all the unique marketing terms though.

  7. Bette

    I only buy pasteurized in the shell eggs. One less thing to be concerned about! I cook for kids and elderly folks and am careful about what I serve them — this certainly solves my problem.They do cost a little more but it's just a small part of my overall food budget and the peace of mind is so worth it.

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