Does The Color Of Your Eggs Have A Secret Meaning For Your Health?

You'll find a variety of choices when it comes to eggs. They're sold in different sizes, and they even have different colored shells. Why the variety of shades? Hens with white feathers lay white eggs, and those with brown feathers have brown eggs. Yet despite their looks, there is no nutritional difference between the two. You can also choose free-range or organic egg varieties.

When you bring home your eggs, you might also notice that some have a darker yolk than others, particularly if you bought free-range products. According to South Dakota State University, the color of the egg yolk has to do with the diet of the hen. Those that are fed a wheat-based diet have lighter-colored varieties, while animals fed a regimen rich in carotenoid have a dark orange vitellum. Though some people prefer darker yolks because they believe they're healthier than their lighter counterparts, there's very little difference in the nutrition between the two. But it doesn't mean that these eggs are completely the same.

Some eggs are fortified with certain nutrients

Eggs can be a great addition to your diet. According to My Food Data, each large variety has 72 calories and more than 6 grams of protein. They're good sources of selenium, B vitamins, lutein, and zeaxanthin. You'll also get 27% of your daily recommended choline in each to regulate brain and nervous system functions.

Some local farmers might feed their hens with different types of plants that could influence the color and nutrition of the egg yolk. A 2021 article in Nutrients looked at how basil, dandelion, and marigold change its composition. These plants tend to have more carotenoids, which provide not only pigment but also antioxidants. Supplementing hen diets with these plants increased the levels of carotenoids in the egg yolks, but not enough to make a significant difference.

Organic farms will have their hens feed on grasses, herbs, and other plants found on the pasture. According to a 2016 article in Livestock Science, if the birds feed on grass, their eggs will have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Some are even fed flaxseed to fortify the eggs with omega-3s.

Nutritional differences in eggs based on the farm and breed

Where your eggs are sourced can create some slight nutritional differences. A 2015 study in the Journal of Elementology analyzed the nutrients in eggs from commercial farms, organic farms, and small farms. Organic eggs had 60% more fat in the egg white and 17% more fat in the yolk.

While that might sound like a lot, let's put it into perspective. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a typical egg white has less than .08 grams of fat, so that means an organic egg white could have 0.13 grams of fat. That's still quite low. Most of the 5 grams of fat in a large egg comes from the egg yolk, so an organic egg might have 5.85 grams of fat. In other words, the difference between organic and standard products is relatively minor.

The breed of chicken and its feed can make a difference in nutrition, according to a 2020 article in Poultry Science. When one type was fed a fermented diet, it increased levels of the amino acid cysteine, which helps your body make collagen to improve your hair, skin, and nails. However, another chicken breed fed the same diet didn't have more of this amino acid. A 2022 article in the Journal of Poultry Science also found that some breeds of chicken create eggs that retain more lutein — a type of carotenoid that can protect your eyes from sunlight damage and eye diseases — in the yolk than others.