Nutritional Value of Eggs – Are Free Range Eggs Better for You?

Nutritiona Value of Eggs - Four eggs on the groundThe Nutritional Value of Eggs by John Harrison

First of all eggs are an extremely rich food on a par with meat for protein content. They also contain a wide range of vitamins and a certain amount of fat

In the past they were described as a near perfect food. In recent times a concern arose that eating eggs would increase your cholesterol levels and that they were, therefore, bad for you.

Then further research from the University of Surrey suggested that most people could eat as many eggs as they wanted without damaging their health.

Egg Myths

Accordingly the British Heart Foundation dropped its advice to limit egg consumption to three a week in 2007 in light of this new evidence. Only 27% of the fat in an egg is actually saturated fat that is implicated in heart disease and excess cholesterol. Even this implication is now being strongly disputed as new studies come out in the field.

Another myth about eggs is that they cause constipation – some confusion about the phrase egg-bound probably being the cause of this. Eggs do lack fibre which is necessary for our bowel, but eating eggs is not in itself the cause of the problem.

Calorie Content of an Egg

A large egg (around 50gr weight) will contain around 75 calories. An average daily requirement for women is around 2,000 calories. A couple of eggs a day won’t make you gain weight. The egg is approximately 10% fat and 12% protein, but only 1% carbohydrates.

On the subject of slimming, there was a fad diet some years ago based on eating as many hard-boiled eggs as you wished to fill you up. I suspect that depends on how much you like hard-boiled eggs!

Vitamin and Mineral Content of Eggs

Most of the nutrition in an egg is in the yolk. The white typically contains a quarter of the calories of the yolk despite the white being 60% of the egg. Chicken eggs supply all the essential amino acids we need plus vitamins and minerals, notably:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)
  • Vitamin Bg (Folic Acid)
  • Vitamin K2
  • Choline
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Phosphorus

The one big lack of eggs as a food is that they don’t provide any vitamin C or fibre. Personally, we’d suggest you eat as many eggs as you want as part of a balanced diet.

Free Range or Caged Eggs?

There is evidence that free range eggs are better for you than caged eggs. This is since the exact composition of the egg will depend on what the hen has eaten. The more varied diet of the free ranger tends to help in producing eggs with an even higher ratio of unsaturated to saturated fats and higher in omega 3 fatty acids plus more vitamin content

 Recently eggs that are especially high in these omega 3 fats have come onto the market. The birds are fed on special diets high in polyunsaturated fat such as flax seed and this benefits the eggs. Since a free range egg is better for you anyway we see little real benefit in this idea but ‘you pays your money and takes your choice’.

Chemical Residues in Eggs

One area of real concern is chemical residue in shop bought eggs. The soil association discovered many eggs in the shops contained residues above the safety level of various chemicals including pesticides. Most worrying was the discovery that some of these residues were of chemicals not even approved for use on laying hens.

With home kept poultry you are in control and can guarantee that your eggs do not contain residues by only using worming products etc. in strict accordance with the rules.

Further Articles All About Eggs

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