Eggs contain high quality protein, as well as beneficial vitamins including A, D, B12, thiamine, folate, choline, zinc, iron, phosphorus and selenium. Eggs are a great source of zeaxanthin and leutein which aid in eye health. Eating one egg each day can be a healthy diet component and does not significantly change blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Deciphering which eggs to purchase at the grocery store can be difficult due to the several options offered. Here is some of the terminology explained:
• Antibiotic-free: This term can be misleading as all shell eggs produced in the U.S. are antibiotic free. If a hen does become ill, the hen will be treated with antibiotics under supervision of a veterinarian, but the Food and Drug Administration does not allow her eggs to be sold for consumption.
• Brown eggs: These brown shell eggs are laid by red-brown feathered breeds like Rhode Island Reds. These eggs are nutritionally the same as white shell eggs.
• Cage-free or free-roaming: Hens can be raised in an indoor facility where they are allowed to roam in the poultry barn and have free access to food and water. Cage-free hens are still raised within some type of shelter to protect from predators and have floor space, nest space and perches available. The nutritional value of these eggs is the same as conventional eggs.
• Free-range: These hens have access to the outdoors as weather allows. These birds have continuous access to food and water and may forage for insects and wild plants. They also have floor space in a shelter, nesting areas, and perches. The nutritional value of cage-free or free- range eggs is the same as conventional eggs.
• Gluten-free: All eggs are naturally gluten free. If the chicken is fed a grain that contains gluten, the gluten is broken down during the chicken’s digestive process and is not passed to the body tissues or eggs.
• Hormone-free: The egg industry does not use hormones in the production of any shell eggs.
• Natural: All eggs are natural according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
• Source of Omega 3: All shell eggs contain some naturally occurring omega-3 fatty acids.
• Good source of vitamin D: All eggs qualify for this nutrient content claim.