Free range eggs vs caged eggs – What’s the Difference Nutritionally?
There are some compelling reasons to choose pastured free range eggs vs caged eggs, and not just for the welfare issues. The levels of nutrition in free range eggs are being shown to be significantly better as well. Here's a breakdown of why it's really worth rejecting caged eggs and choosing pastured free range for your family's health.
Life As a Caged Chicken
Battery egg production is a sad indictment on human's treatment of animals. Bred in huge production facilities, the male baby caged chickens are of no use and are disposed of like garbage. Female chicks are grown in extremely cramped and dark conditions and fed a processed diet full of hormones, pesticides and antibiotics.
Once they reach laying age, they are put into cages less than half the size of an A4 sheet of paper. The wire floor in these cages slopes down on an angle. This prevents the hens from sitting properly and their feet often become deformed as a result.
They also have the tips of their beaks cut or burnt off to try and prevent them doing any damage to the other birds caged right beside them. In fact, some of these toxic, windowless warehouses can contain as many as 100,000 caged chickens, never seeing sunlight and fed a diet of corn waste and chemicals.
Even if you don't have a problem with animals being treated like this (and I really hope you do - lack of empathy for the suffering of animals is one of the hallmarks of a sociopath), it isn't hard to see why eggs coming from caged chickens kept in these conditions and fed this kind of diet are far from what they should be.
The Benefits of Pastured Free Range Eggs vs Caged Eggs
The best type of eggs come from pastured free range chicken, where the birds are allowed to roam freely and eat insects and plants. The nutrients from this varied diet can then be transferred into the eggs and, as you'll see ahead, the nutritional profile of free range eggs are significantly better in many ways.
Unfortunately, some large-scale egg farmers have exploited lax definitions of free range chicken and have been able to use this label, even when they only allow their confined chicken out occasionally to concreted areas. These are not true free range eggs.
Real farmers that produce pastured free range and organic eggs will almost always be proud of the fact and promote it on their packaging. These eggs will usually have a much deeper yellow/orange yolk, avoid the inflammatory fat profiles and salmonella issues of caged eggs and I personally think taste much better too.
The best source of pastured free range eggs are smaller farmers in your local area and they deserve your support. The EatWild website also has a good state-by-state listing of grass fed meat, dairy and egg producers from the USA.
This is a relatively inexpensive food and it's worth a little more for all the free range egg benefits ahead.
Here's an interesting video showing why companies are switching to cage-free eggs.
Health Benefits of Free Range Eggs
A comparison of nutritional data for caged versus free range eggs found, on average, the free range eggs had:
- Twice as much omega-3 fatty acids.
- Three times more vitamin E.
- Seven times more pro-vitamin A beta-carotene.
- A quarter less saturated fat.
- A third less cholesterol.
Other tests have demonstrated that pastured eggs have up to six times more essential vitamin D than regular supermarket eggs. They have also been shown to have significantly more B vitamins than a factory egg.
Egg yolks are also a known source of lutein and zeaxanthin, but the pale, watery yellow yolks in eggs from caged chickens, fed the waste products of the grain industry, contain very little.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two important antioxidants for the health of your eyes. They help to protect the delicate macula region of your eye from damaging UV and high-intensity blue light.
If you'd like to protect your vision as well as improve your overall health, look for the deep yellow/orange yolks you'll find in real free range eggs. [/alert]
Social media gives us a unique opportunity to spread the word on these kind of issues. If enough people share articles like this and more of us choose free range eggs, industrial scale farmers will be forced to change their cruel production methods and hopefully free range eggs can go back to being the natural and healthy super food they're designed to be.
Here's an interesting infographic from draxe.com