Brown bread tends to be a lot better than white bread. Brown pasta is far better than white pasta. Brown sugar contains slightly more minerals and marginally fewer calories as compared to its white counterpart. Naturally, this leads some people to believe brown eggs are healthier than white eggs. In this article, we analyze whether one kind is superior to the other, or is this just a marketing gimmick? Let the battle between brown eggs vs white eggs begin without further ado.
Why are some eggs brown vs. white?
First, let’s identify what causes eggs to have different colors? It is all about the chicken! For example, white-feathered chicken with white earlobes such as White Leghorn lay white eggs. In contrast, chickens such as Plymouth Rocks, New Hampshire, Orpington, and Rhode Island Reds with reddish-brown-feather and red earlobes lay brown-shelled eggs. Therefore, the factor that determines the color of an egg is the breed of the chicken.
Are Brown eggs healthier?
Next, we address the big question, are brown eggs superior to white eggs? Contrary to popular belief, brown eggs are not a healthier alternative to white eggs. The color of an egg does not give any clue about its quality. There is no substantial nutritional difference between brown and white eggs. Both types of eggs are healthy food. Typically, an egg contains lots of vitamins, minerals, and high-quality protein. As per the USDA, one large egg (50 grams) has about 71.5k calories, 6.28 grams of protein, and 4.76 grams of fat, only 1.5 grams of which is saturated fat. However, the color of the eggshell has no significant effect on the composition of the egg and its nutritional value. The quality of eggs depends on factors such as hen’s diet, hen’s environment, and so on. For example, hens on an omega-3 rich diet will produce eggs
containing higher levels of omega-3 fatty acid. Eggs from hens fed on the same menu will have similar nutritional value regardless of shell color. Therefore, while buying an egg, a good strategy would be to concentrate on the diet of the hen that produced it, such as cholesterol-free, high-vitamin-E, low-cholesterol, or omega-3-enhanced. The hen’s environment also affects the quality of the egg. For instance, a hen that is allowed to roam around under the sun is more likely to lay eggs with more vitamin D content. The only distinction between brown eggs and white eggs is the color of the eggshell.
White eggs vs brown eggs – which one tastes better?
Some people tend to argue that white eggs with bright orange yolks are the best when it comes to taste. As we have already pointed out that the egg color depends on the breed, and it does not influence taste. Besides, the color of the yolk depends on the diet of the hen. Hens that are not given any feed and find their food from nature will very often lay eggs with pale yellow yolks. If corn is included in the hen’s diet, the eggs come with darker orange yolks. So, scientifically, there is no reason why one kind of egg will taste better than the other. It boils down to one’s personal choice.
So why are brown eggs more expensive?
There are two reasons behind this. Firstly, brown egg-laying chickens are bigger as compared to white egg-laying breeds. Therefore, those chickens consume more food. Higher prices for brown eggs in the grocery store make up for this extra cost incurred in feeding brown egg laying chicken. Secondly, the retailers are exploiting the widespread false notion that brown eggs are healthier.
What is important?
Now that you know shell color does not matter much, you might ask what you should look for while buying eggs. Let us now explore different types of eggs available in the market and their differences.
- Pastured Egg: Pastured eggs are eggs produced from hens, having continuous access to outdoors during the daytime. Since they are allowed to roam freely, they eat whatever plants, weed seeds, and insects of their choice along with commercial feed and gain nutrients from a varied diet. Further access to sunlight increases vitamin D in free-range hens. It is highly likely that all these nutritional benefits are transferred to the eggs these hens lay.
- Omega-3 Enriched Egg: Omega-3 enriched egg comes from conventional hens, whose feed is supplemented with omega-3 rich food such as flax seeds. Therefore, these eggs may offer some additional nutritional benefits over traditional eggs.
- Organic Egg: Organic egg-laying hens are fed organic feed. These hens are not fed any animal by-products or genetically modified crops. These hens must have access to the outdoors and must not be raised in cages. Except during an infectious outbreak, these hens cannot be given antibiotics. Due to the hens’ access to sunshine throughout the year, organic eggs probably contain more amount of vitamin D. Apart from this, there is no evidence that organic eggs are more nutritional benefits than conventional eggs.
- Free-range Egg: Free-range hens are given access to the outdoors through some small window on the hen house during their production cycle. However, such access does not ensure that a hen ever actually stepped a foot outside. This terminology again is more of a marketing term.
- Cage-free Egg: Cage-free eggs are also labeled as the barn, barn-roaming, or aviary eggs. Hens that lay cage-free eggs are raised “cage-free,” which means they are not confined within a cage. What happens, in reality, is cage-free hens are kept in a big closed house, often in a cramped condition with little or no access to outdoors. Sometimes, the manure is not cleaned regularly and allowed to stay in the barn, causing bacteria like salmonella to grow in the eggs. So cage-free hens may have more room to roam around, but the cage-free egg is just a marketing term with no real benefits over conventional eggs.
- Conventional or Caged Egg: These hens spend their productive years in an overfilled house or battery-cages, which is less than half the size of an A4 sheet of paper. They don’t have space to flap their wings. These hens never see the light of the day. They are usually fed commercial food supplemented with vitamins and minerals. They may also be treated with antibiotics and hormones.
- The color of the eggshell depends on the hen’s breed.
- There is no significant difference between brown eggs and white eggs, at least from the nutritional point of view. Which one tastes better? – It depends on your choice.
- There are other factors such as hen’s diet and living conditions, which may affect the quality of eggs.
- Although pastured eggs are most nutritious, conventional eggs are still among the most nutritious foods you can eat.