Friday, March 18, 2011

Eggs are one of the healthy foods

Eggs have received a bad reputation over the years. Every now and then they are declared to be a healthy, wholesome food and then they are blamed for raising cholesterol. Now, eggs are once again in vogue - which demonstrates that 'expert' advice depends on which 'expert' you listen to.

It's clear that eggs are not eggs. Free Range Eggs are not just any eggs. Free range eggs are enjoying greater attention now because customers realise that farmers like us, who raise the hens in the traditional way, allowing them to roam over pasture without confining them in sheds or cutting off their beaks so they can't forage properly, are producing food which meets their nutritional and ethical requirements.

There is now a heap of evidence about the health benefits of eating real free range eggs compared with the cage counterparts or eggs from the equivalent intensive 'free range' systems. As a result some factory farm operators, supported  by their industry bully (sorry body) are doing everything they can to close us all down.

Unfortunately there is also some mis-information out there suggesting that yolk colour is the only guide for genuine free range eggs. Some say: 'crack a free range egg in one bowl and a normal farm factory egg in another. Compare the appearances of the eggs to one another. The yolk of the free range egg is a deep vibrant yellow-orange colour whereas the factory egg is a wimpy yellow colour.'

It would be great if it was that simple. However it's all too easy to manipulate yolk colour. Chemical companies make  large profits from selling colouring additives to egg producers to ensure 'a deep vibrant yellow-orange colour' in the yolk. Probably all the cage and barn laid eggs produced in Australia are laid by hens which are fed colouring additives.

In the natural environment, the colour differentiation is due to the high beta carotene content in the free range yolk – over six times more than factory eggs, unless the feed includes colouring. Natural beta carotene, also known as vitamin A, is just one of many benefits free range eggs offer consumers. However, yolk colour should vary, depending on what the birds eat. If your egg yolks are always the same you are eating additives.

Vitamin D and E Benefits and More

The USDA has measured the nutrients in free range eggs and has found that the vitamin D levels were as much as six times higher than the average in factory eggs! Eggs are one of the few natural ways to obtain vitamin D through food sources. The vitamin E levels were almost four times the average of factory eggs. Vitamin D and vitamin E are both essential nutrients for optimal brain, heart, skin and immune system operation.

There are other benefits of free range eggs too. For instance, they have 33% less cholesterol than their factory farm egg counterparts. In addition, there is 25% less saturated fat and two times the average omega three fatty acids. Just eating two free ranges eggs could virtually satisfy the minimum daily requirements for vitamin D.

Another myth is that the viscosity of the egg white is always an indication of the freshness of an egg. It's true that a runny white is often an indication of staleness - but that's not always the case. Diet can have an impact on the albumen and so can the age of the hen.  As hens get older, the eggs whites can become more runny even when they have just been laid , which is one reason most farms get rid of their hens at the end of the first laying deason.

Why Free Range Eggs are Best

Free range chickens are allowed to roam freely eating insects and grass throughout the day.  They are constantly exposed to daily sunshine and fresh air.

When chickens are allowed to roam freely, their eggs are more nutritious because they are allowed to eat food with nutritional value like the green grass and bugs. This produces omega 3 rich eggs, plenty of vitamins and less cholesterol and saturated fat. The great news is that free range eggs have no more calories than the average factory farm egg but do have three or more times the nutritional value.

Factory farm hens do not have a varied diet. They can only eat what is provide in the farm's automatied system - the same day in and day out.

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