Eggs: Color Doesn’t Matter

Photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

Whenever I go to the grocery store, I buy organic, free-range eggs. No matter where I get them, the eggs are always brown. The non-organic eggs tend to be white.

I’ve always heard that brown eggs are healthier than white eggs. I know that the chickens that supply my eggs are fed and treated better (cage free) than their non-organic counterparts. I know those are good things, but the brown eggs are chosen because they are healthier also, right? Isn’t that why all the organic eggs are brown?

Are brown eggs healthier?
The answer is no. Contrary to popular belief, brown eggs are not nutritionally superior to white eggs. And studies have found that there is actually no nutritional difference between “organic” and “free-range” eggs and regular eggs. However, even though organic eggs have no nutritional advantage over regular eggs, they do have the advantage that the egg that you eat has very little man-made chemicals.  That’s due to the fact that organic chickens are fed organic grains that are grown without use of pesticides and fertilizers.  That’s a good thing because otherwise those chemicals build up in the chickens and are deposited in high levels in the eggs, which are then eaten by you.  That could cause medical problems in the long run because of the ways that the chemicals might interact with your body.

What gives the egg its color?
The shell color has nothing to do with the egg’s nutritional value or taste. In other words, no matter the color, an egg is an egg.  All large whole eggs have 74 calories, contain 5 g of fat, with 1.5 g being saturated fat (almost all in the yolk) and are a good source of protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, riboflavin, iron and phosphorous.  Here is what actually determines the shell color:

  1. Breed of hens: Shell color depends on the breed of the hen and no breed has been known to lay higher quality eggs than another.  So, since the breeds have no known difference in egg nutrition, the eggs won’t either.
  2. Color of the earlobes: It has been observed that hens with white earlobes produce white eggs and hens with red earlobes produce brown eggs.   Also, ear lobe color does not enhance the nutrition of the egg.  I know, not exactly a revelation there, is it?

Why are brown eggs more expensive?
So, why are brown eggs often more expensive?  The reason is that the hens that lay brown eggs tend to be bigger and need more food to maintain them.  So, the cost of maintaining them is shoved on to you, the consumer.

So, if there was a race, brown and white eggs would tie for first place in the nutirition category.  It really is just a cosmetic preference.  Organic, free range farmers just prefer a certain kind of breed.  So, the color is just shell deep!

Comments (8)

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  1. Shawno says:

    We just recently started buying the brown, organic eggs. I actually do think they taste better than the non-organic eggs. But, that may just be only in my mind.

  2. Blake says:

    Great info. I never really even thought of this stuff. Thanks for the info… I love eggs!

  3. sandie says:

    I wouldn’t be so concerned about the colour of the shell- look at the colour of the yolk, Rich yellow ones will tell you much more than the colour of the shell. Someone gave me some eggs recently- not sure of source but they are the most UNappetising eggs I have seen- their yolks are so pale, my artist eyes would call them light lemon yellow -ugh! I go for ‘organic free range’ eggs because they have the best yolk colour.

  4. Mark Salinas says:

    Always been curious….thanks for this! Much appreciated!

  5. I’m pretty lucky- having hens is a wonderful experience. The eggs are light brown not really as dark as the free range but are still oh so yummy!

  6. Maria Isabel says:

    When I was growing up, we had the brown eggs more often because the chickens that laid them did it every day while the other chickens didn’t do it as often. They were all free range chickens.
    I like eggs but not more than one or two a week.
    Thanks for the information.

  7. Thanks for clearing this up! As a matter of a fact I’m going to eat about 8 white eggs right now!

  8. egglady says:

    The color of the yolk has a lot to do with the freshness of the egg. The freshest eggs in the supermarket are about 2 weeks old. The yolks are pale compared to fresh eggs. When you get fresh eggs from a farm (regardless of eggshell color), the yolk is much deeper in color.

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