Eggs are one of the most affordable sources of high-quality protein (yes, even if you buy organic!). But there’s a lot of lingering misinformation about eggs, so it’s time to cut through the confusion. Here are the most common myths I hear about eggs–and the facts.
Myth #1: Egg whites are better for you than yolks.
Some people eat only the whites to save calories, score protein without fat, and avoid cholesterol. But half the egg’s protein is actually found in the yolk. And even the American Heart Association says an egg per day can be part of a healthy diet. The yolk also has key nutrients that the white doesn’t, like choline (involved in liver function) and vitamin D (which helps your body soak up calcium to keep bone mass strong). The yolk is also rich in disease-fighting antioxidants such as lutein, which protects your eyes.
Myth #2: “Cage-Free” means the hens happily roamed pasture.
Claims around animal treatment can still be a little fuzzy. The “cage-free” claim just means that the hens weren’t kept in enclosures (cages), but they were still held indoors. If you see “free range” eggs, that means the hens were given access to the outdoors (but it doesn’t mean they necessarily made it out there or that they were pecking around on picturesque pasture). “Certified organic” eggs are laid by hens that have access to the outdoors and eat organic feed grown without the use of most pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. If you want store-bought eggs from hens that definitely spent time outdoors, look for “pasture raised”.
Myth #3: Brown eggs are healthier than white eggs.
Don’t be fooled! Eggs are brown because they come from a different breed of chicken than white eggs do. It doesn’t mean those eggs are healthier or more wholesome than white. Whether it’s white or brown, one large egg has roughly 70 calories, 6 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat.
Myth #4: You should pay more for a “hormone-free” claim on egg cartons.
This is one of those “gotcha!” claims when it comes to poultry. Though you may see claims like “hormone-free” or “hens raised without added hormones”, this is simply a marketing technique. By law, poultry can’t be given hormones.
Myth #5: Eggs shouldn’t be kept past the date stamped on the carton.
Eggs can actually be kept in the fridge up to three weeks past that “sell by” date. And in case you were wondering, yes, store-bought eggs must be refrigerated. When eggs are washed and sanitized for packaging, their natural protective coating is removed. That makes them more vulnerable to bacteria entering the shell if they’re bought cold and then kept at room temperature to “sweat”. Eggs from backyard chickens will still have their protective coating unless they’re washed. Either way, remember that eggs stay fresher longer when they’re kept refrigerated.