Unscrambling the Facts about Eggs
Nutritious and delicious, eggs are one of the most versatile ingredients to have in the kitchen.
And with the old wives’ tale that daily consumption of eggs increases the incidence of heart disease debunked by health experts, you can be sure that what’s good for the taste bud – soufflé omelette, truffle scramble and eggs benedict – can be beneficial to the health too.
Here are some facts: Eggs contain protein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin and folate that are essential for robust heart-health. What is more, the protein quality in eggs is so extraordinary that it has been conferred a Biological Value (BV) of 100, a benchmark which all other protein sources are measured against. This means the protein type found in egg is completely absorbed and utilized by our bodies.
However, not all eggs are equal. Here’s a guide to understanding the small print.
- Grade (as in Grade A) – Eggs are graded based on egg size, quality of the shell and visual quality of the inside (when held up to light). It says nothing about how the hens were raised.
- Shell Colour – The colour of egg shells does not denote its nutritional value. Chickens with white earlobes (they have ears!) lay white eggs (or light blue eggs in the case of Araucanas) and chickens with red earlobes lay brown eggs (with a few exceptions).
- Yolk Colour – This is influenced by the feed of the hens. More bugs, (healthy) food scraps and grass usually means darker yolks. Adding marigold or other “darkening” plants to the hen’s diet can also darken the yolk.
- Vegetarian – Chickens are not naturally vegetarian. When put out to pasture, they dig up worms and bugs, along with grass and grains. A vegetarian egg label signifies that the feed does not contain animal by-products.
- Cage-free – This simply means they are free from their cage, but may not be free from a life of cramped, indoor living conditions.
- Barn – Similar to cage free in most cases, hens are kept in barns rather than the cramped cages used in normal factory farms.
- Kampong – Kampong in Malay means small village enclosure, however these eggs are not from free ranging hens roaming around the village. Kampong is a breed of hen and they are often kept on battery egg farms.
- Free-range – The “range” that hens actually move about freely in is still open to debate but they do have access to outdoors and fresh air which is missing from barn and cage free hens.
- Special Feed – Such as vitamin E, omega 3, organic feed. What the hen eats will have a direct impact on the quality of their eggs but unless stated these hens may still be from a battery farm or fed antibiotics so the benefits of adding feed may be only for marketing purposes.
- Organic – The best egg available, ethically raised outdoors without the use of hormones, vaccines or antibiotics. Raised on land free from toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers and fed organic feed only and certainly no animal by products nor GMO fed.