Brown eggs are often advertised as a healthier alternative to white eggs. You might be surprised to learn that nutritionally, both brown and white eggs are almost identical in content. The only measurable differences come from the color and breed of the chickens producing the eggs. Other differences include farming practices and grade, but these factors vary for both brown and white eggs. Choosing the healthiest eggs should not be based on color.
The color of an eggshell is determined by the color of the hen laying the egg. This is very similar to how your eye color and hair color are determined by genetics. Brown eggs come from brown hens and white eggs come from white hens. The color of the yoke inside the shell and the egg white is the same for both brown and white eggs.
The nutritional value of brown and white eggs are almost identical. Both brown and white eggs contain approximately 70 calories per medium sized egg and approximately 7 grams of fat. Both brown and white eggs contain 210 mg of cholesterol and 12 grams of protein. Both white and brown eggs are rich in B vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus and choline. The only real nutritional difference is from eggs that come from Aracauna chickens, which are a blueish color and they contain more cholesterol than brown and white eggs
On average brown eggs are more expensive than white eggs. The higher price tag on brown eggs does not necessarily reflect better quality eggs, rather it is a result of specific breeds of brown hens being higher maintenance than white hens. This occurs because brown hens are larger than white hens and therefore require more food, which translates into a higher cost for consumers.
More important than buying eggs based on color, is buying eggs based on their grade. Grade A eggs are the highest quality eggs you can buy. Most grocery stores sell only Grade A eggs, but if you are buying your eggs from a local farm, make sure to ask if they are grade A. Lower grades are used commercially for cooking and in places like hospitals and cafeterias. Grade A eggs have a thick shell and are normally shaped, while lower graded eggs have a thin shell or other structural anomalies.
Consider Farming Practices
Another important quality to examine in eggs is how the hens were fed and maintained. The healthiest eggs come from vegetarian fed hens. Hens that are fed a flax seed diet produce eggs with a higher omega-3 fatty acid content. These eggs also cost more because flax is more expensive to feed hens than other grains. It is also important to buy eggs that are free of antibiotics and growth hormones.