Eggs are tasty, convenient, and a good source of high-quality protein. The price of eggs, however, can vary greatly depending on which one you buy. Free range, organic, and cage-free eggs are widely available now, and it can lead to confusion about the nutritional qualities of each. Are you getting more nutrition by choosing a more expensive egg? Let’s break down just a few of the choices you might find.
Conventional Eggs: Average cost per dozen: $1.05. These eggs typically come from hens in crowded henhouses. The eggs are still a nutritious choice, high in protein and choline (a nutrient that helps cell membranes and may play a role in healthy infant development).
Cage Free: Average cost per dozen: $2.50. Cage-free eggs come from chickens in an open barn. It still may be crowded, but the chickens are not in cages. They are allowed nest boxes and perches. They have no real differences nutritionally, although you may feel better about the treatment of the chickens.
Free Range: Average cost per dozen: $3.50-$5.00. Chickens roam freely. These chickens feed on grain, as well as plants and insects. Again, likely no real differences in nutrition. Purchasing free-range supports farmers who want to maintain a more humane situation for their chickens.
Organic Eggs: Average cost per dozen: $4.00. These eggs come from chickens who haven’t received vaccines or antibiotics, so the farmer must take other steps to prevent disease. The feed must also be certified organic. There may be small increases in protein, potassium, and copper in organic eggs.
Omega-3 Fortified Eggs: Average cost per dozen: $2.50. Chickens are fed grain supplemented with flax seed or fish to increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the eggs. If the chickens are raised free-range or cage-free, the label will usually specify. Otherwise, they are probably raised conventionally. They do supply around 200 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in each egg. However, salmon and tuna remain better sources of omega-3. If you’re not a fish fan, eating these eggs may help get more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet.