Does Egg Color Really Matter

Most people get their eggs from the grocery store, not stopping to think of the color or quality of the eggs, but most are white. If you buy eggs at the farmer’s market, you will most likely find brown eggs. So- what is the difference, really?

Many people assume brown eggs are more nutritious. Assuming all white eggs at the grocery store come from big factory farms and brown eggs come from local farmers who raise free-range chickens … sure. Brown is better.

But is that true?

What determines the color?

An egg’s color is determined by the type of chicken that lays it- regardless of the conditions they are raised in. No breed of hen is proven to lay a more nutritious egg than another, despite the color of the eggshell.

The hen’s conditions can affect the egg’s nutrition

Tests show that true free-range eggs are nutritionally superior when compared to commercial eggs.  Free Range Eggs 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

“True” free-range means hens that have spent their days roaming the barnyard, getting fresh air and eating a natural diet. When “free-range” is on an egg carton, it means hens have access to the outdoors “during their production cycle.” But, access doesn’t always mean time outside. No regulations cover how big the outdoor area must be, or that a chicken ever has to get outside.

That’s why it’s so hard to determine if free-range eggs come from truly free-range chickens. At the farmer’s market, you can ask about the conditions that the hens are raised in before you buy.

Another factor is diet. Chickens are not vegetarians by nature, but grocery store eggs produced by hens fed vegetarian diets tend to have more of certain vitamins and omega-3s than those from hens fed a conventional diet.

So when choosing eggs, don’t judge an egg by its shell color. White eggs can be just as nutritious as brown eggs.