Contrary to what we’ve been led to believe over the past few years, eggs, including their yolks have tremendous health benefits. When choosing eggs, choose organic, grass-fed, free-range eggs over other types of eggs. Here is what these “terms” mean:
Cage-free eggs are eggs from birds that are not raised in cages, but in floor systems usually in an open barn. The hens have bedding material such as pine shavings on the floor, and they are allowed perches and nest boxes to lay their eggs. However, they may still be at close quarters with many other hens — just not in cages. That depends on the farm.
Free-range eggs are laid from hens that have the opportunity to go outside. Smaller farms may keep birds outside under a canopy area. They may travel in and out of a barn at free will or spend some portion of their day roaming outdoors. These birds get the most exercise, which make them leaner, and they are less stressed because they are able to roam around. Less stress means a healthier body.
Organic eggs are laid from hens that may be kept in any kind of caging system, but generally are cage free. They eat an organic feed and don’t receive vaccines or antibiotics. In order to qualify for USDA organic certification, the grains used for the hens’ diets must be produced on land that has been free from the use of toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers for at least three years. Genetically engineered crops are not permitted, and hens must be maintained without hormones, antibiotics, and other intrusive drugs. Although the use of antibiotics and growth hormones are prohibited in hens, some farmers still do use them to maximize profits by “plumping” up the hens. Hens raised organically do not do this.
When left to their own devices, hens and chickens will forage for grass and seeds and supplement their diet with insects. This is their natural diet, what their digestive system was made for, NOT corn, soy, and other grains. When an animal eats as it is intended to eat, they are more healthy and they get their required nutrients. Think of it this way, what if you, as humans, stopped eating vegetables and meat and started eating things like weeds and sand, what would happen to your body and your health? Same concept. By animals eating a diet that they were meant to eat (grass), their meat and eggs for consumption tend to have more fatty acids, vitamins, and less saturated fat.
Color of Yolks
The darker, more vibrant the yolk means that the hens were fed a healthier diet. Paler yolk colors indicate poorer nutrition.