The Pasture-Raised Difference

Eggs have been controversial foods for some time as heart disease has crept it way to the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. So are they in or out? The answer is the same for most nutrition themes…It depends. Unless you are allergic to eggs, they absolutely can have a place in your diet. And, in my opinion, they should. Eggs are the gold-standard of proteins. Almost 100% of the amino acids are absorbable by the body. They also offer 7-8 grams of top quality protein for anywhere from 16 cents for conventional eggs to 60 cents for the premium pasture-raised eggs. In this economy, that is a good investment! Eggs are also versatile and appropriate for any time of day. From omelets to frittata’s and egg can fit any meal or occasion.

The concern with eggs for those who have elevated cholesterol levels is that they may cause a rise in blood levels. Eggs contain about 200 mg of cholesterol and that is the target intake for someone with coronary artery disease. Studies show, however, that dietary cholesterol has a much lower effect on blood cholesterol levels than saturated fats do, and most people are safe to enjoy eggs as part of a healthy diet.

The point I would consider concerning eggs is not whether to include them, but what type to buy, for between conventionally produced eggs and pasture-raised there is a great divide. Conventionally produced eggs come from chickens treated with antibiotics and fed a diet of corn and soy which may also include hormones. These chickens are either caged or allowed to roam for periods of time in order to claim the labels, “cage-free” or “free-range.” Many producers label their product, “100% vegetarian diet,” but that is still corn and soy. In the end, the product is less heart-healthy than the pastured egg.

Pastured eggs are significantly higher in vitamins A and E, omega 3s and beta carotene. Up to seven-times greater! The fats that pastured eggs contain are anti-inflammatory and beneficial to the heart and brain where conventionally-raised proteins are higher in omega 6 and may promote inflammation. We understand that we are what we eat, but so are the animals we consume. This point is especially important if you are intolerant in any way to corn or soy as the proteins transfer to the eggs and milk portions of the animals that consume them.

Most grocers offer pastured eggs. I’ve recently made the switch to them for our family. They are more expensive, but compared to the quality of the protein, I consider them still an excellent value. You can rest assured that when I find them on sale, I grab a few!

Note the difference in color between the yolk of a conventional and a pastured egg. No doubt you’ll know which one is packing the nutrients your body needs. Who knew a little egg could cause such a stir! Why don’t you whisk a few up into this amazing frittata? Morning, noon, or night; your meals will be a lot sunnier!


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