Eggs: New and improved?

Have you looked in the egg case in the grocery store lately? Chances are, some new types of eggs are available that you may never have noticed. Here's an update on the variety of eggs marketed today:

  • Modified-fat eggs
    Some eggs are enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, the type of fatty acids that are believed to be beneficial for heart disease, arthritis and possibly other chronic illnesses. Omega-3 fatty acids are found most often in cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna. Chickens fed a diet high in flaxseed (itself a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids) produce eggs with the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids as four ounces of tuna. The amount of cholesterol and total fat in the egg is unchanged. If you're trying to increase omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, these eggs may be beneficial.
  • Lower-cholesterol eggs
    A typical large egg contains 213mg of cholesterol. Since health guidelines recommend we eat no more than 300mg of cholesterol a day, many people feel that eggs are forbidden territory. Lower-cholesterol eggs, with only 45mg cholesterol, are available, but of course at a price. Since the yolk of the egg contains all the cholesterol, it's cheaper in the long run to simply use the egg whites and throw out the yolks. It's also important to remember that recent research indicates that the total saturated-fat content of our diet, not just the amount of cholesterol, is more important in preventing heart disease.
  • Organic eggs
    To be certified organic, eggs must be produced from hens fed pesticide- and commercial-fertilizer-free foods. The hens cannot be exposed to hormones and must be raised in a humane environment. Because these restrictions increase production costs and decrease volume, the eggs are of course more expensive. Organic eggs don't differ significantly in nutritional value, but if chemical-free foods are important to you, they are worth a try.
  • A word about cost
    A sample of eggs available in my local grocery store (in Vermont) reveals the following prices:
  • large white eggs: $1.29 a dozen
  • large brown eggs: $1.39 a dozen
  • Eggland's Best (eggs that are both low in cholesterol and higher in omega-3 fatty acids): $1.99 a dozen
  • organic brown eggs: $3.58 a dozen

Being raised thrifty, I opt for the white eggs. Brown eggs have no increased nutritional value, I get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from fish and flaxseed, I often use only the egg whites so I don't worry about the cholesterol in the yolks, and I'm not willing to pay almost three times as much for eggs that come from organic hens. The choice is yours.

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