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Brown Eggs vs. White Eggs

We know that brown is better when it comes to grains, but what about eggs? The only difference between brown and white eggs is the price. Both brown and white eggs have the same nutritional profile and are graded the using the same scale. So, why are some eggs brown and others white, and are brown eggs worth the extra money?

4eggs.jpgIt's All About The Chicken

You might assume that white eggs are laid by white-feathered chickens and brown eggs by brown-feathered ones, and you would be somewhat correct with that assumption. The color of the chicken does play a role, but it is the color of the earlobe that determines the shell color. White or light-colored lobes indicate white eggs and chickens with red lobes produce brown eggs.

More Expensive Does Not Mean Better

If you think that brown eggs taste better, it has nothing to do with the shell color and everything to with what the chicken are being fed. And because chickens with red lobes tend to be bigger, they eat more. This is the main reason that they are more expensive. In addition to the quantity of food the chicken eats, the quality is an important factor. The quality of the feed can impact the taste but if you give the same quality feed to both lobe colored chickens, the eggs will taste the same.

Go For An A

Egg grading is a voluntary program run by the USDA. It is not a quality seal, but merely a sign that the eggs come from a facility that had a USDA "grader" evaluate the interior quality and the appearance and overall condition of the eggshell. According to the USDA guidelines, egg grades are:

  • U.S. Grade AA - eggs have whites that are thick and firm; yolks that are high, round, and practically free from defects (including blood spots and meat spots); and clean, unbroken shells. Air cell depth may not exceed 3.2mm.
  • U.S. Grade A - eggs have characteristics of Grade AA eggs except the whites are "reasonably" firm.
  • U.S. Grade B - eggs have whites that may be thinner and yolks that may be wider and flatter than eggs of higher grades. The shells must be unbroken, but may show slight stains.

Grade A is what is found most often in stores and Grade B are usually made into items like liquid eggs. It is important to note that egg size has nothing to do with egg grade. And egg size is based on carton weight, not individual egg weigh, so all of the eggs in that carton of large eggs will not weigh the same.

Regardless of shell color, size or even grade, the most important thing about eggs is that they can and should be part of a healthy diet. Eggs contain the highest biological value for protein. One egg has only 75 calories but 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, along with iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids. And it's important to eat the yolk because the essential fatty acids vitamins A, E, D and K, as well as most of the calcium, iron and folate are found there.

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Joanne Perez, MS, RDN, LD is a Savannah-based dietitian who, after 20 years of food service and clinical dietetics, made the switch to nutrition communications and all things tech. She doesn't believe in diets and thinks that life is too short to be anything but happy and healthy at any weight. Read her blog, Real Bite Nutrition, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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