Last week I let you in on why we started raising chickens and why for the sake of the animals I encourage you to think when you are shopping and vote with your dollars. But there are also health benefits for you and your family to consider.
When it comes to health and nutrition values not all eggs are equal. The eggs from really free-range (that is pastured) chickens have been proved to have dramatically different nutrient levels.
According to testing carried out by Mother Earth News, when compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, real free-range eggs may contain:
- 1/3 less cholesterol
- 1/4 less saturated fat
- 2/3 more vitamin A
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- 3 times more vitamin E
- 7 times more beta carotene
Mother Earth News aren’t the only ones conducting such studies, in the article revealing the results of their 2007 study they also provide a list of mounting evidence from other studies. Studies that have found eggs from pastured hens having more folic acid, B12, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, beta carotene, vitamins A & E and less fat & cholesterol.
Recently I read a post called Eat More Eggs! by Kelly the Kitchen Kop, and discovered that there is a myth, that many people believe, that eggs are bad for the heart because of cholesterol. Eggs are in fact packed with nutrition, well they are when they are fresh eggs from birds that eat their natural diet of grass, grain and insects.
From personal experience I can tell you that the eggs from our chickens have much more ‘orangey’ yolk and in my opinion taste better than store bought eggs. Generally a more orange yolk means more beta-carotene and so better for you, unfortunately an orange yolk isn’t necessarily a guarantee that the egg came from a free-range chicken enjoying the benefits of leafy greens and insects in their diet. Feed additives such as marigold petal meal, dried algae, or alfalfa meal can be used to colour the yolks. (Source: Wikepedia – Free-range eggs)
The best health benefits come from buying your eggs direct from the farmer or farmers market. There is also the added benefit with shopping this way that your eggs will be fresher, you are being kind to the environment by eating locally, you are supporting local farmers, and taking a stand for animal welfare.
You could be forgiven for thinking that this is a sales pitch, but trust me it isn’t. Right now between the winter setting in and the egg hide’n'seek (the chickens are winning), we are only just finding enough eggs for ourselves and don’t have all that many left over to sell. I simply wish to share the information that I have found in the hopes that it might help people improve their health and make decisions that will improve animal welfare.
If you are nearby and after reading this want to try eggs from truly free-range hens then let me know and I will see what I can do. Or if you want to meet a flock of free-range chickens to see what inquisitive, intelligent, interesting and entertaining creatures they are then just get in touch.
This post is part of Fight Back Friday, why don’t you head over and check out some of the other shared wisdom.