Many people wonder about organic eggs and cholesterol and if there is a difference in cholesterol between organic and non-organic eggs.
About Organic Eggs
When manufacturers label eggs as organic, it simply means the hens are raised without the use of:
- Toxic pesticides
- Chemical fertilizers
- Growth hormones
Most organic egg farmers also farm in a way that is environmentally friendly and some offer eggs from free range or cage free hens. Free range and cage free hens are able to wander about the barn (and sometimes the farm) and are not constantly kept in a coop. It is important to note here that just because a carton of eggs is labeled free range or cage free, does not mean they are organic. If you are specifically looking for organic eggs, you need to look for the USDA Certified Organic seal.
About Organic Eggs and Cholesterol
Whether organic or non-organic, eggs have been long touted as "bad" because studies done in the 1960's claimed that regular consumption of eggs increased cholesterol levels. After decades of studies, it turns out, while the average age does contain around 213 milligrams of cholesterol, they are one of the healthiest foods you can eat because they contain so many nutrients.
As it turns out, consuming conventional or organic eggs and cholesterol in them does not necessarily raise your levels, according to a 1999 study in the Journal of American Medical Association. Sounds counterintuitive to what the public as heard for decades, but here's how they explain it:
- 95 percent of the cholesterol in your body is made by the liver.
- When you eat grains and food and beverages high in sugar, the sugar enters your bloodstream and is then converted to saturated fat because your body doesn't need the extra sugar.
- Saturated fat increases cholesterol levels in the body and not necessarily the consumption of cholesterol.
Of course, the over-consumption of anything isn't healthy, so, remember to eat eggs in moderation, no more than three to five servings a week.
The Benefits of Organic Eggs
So, now that you know the cholesterol levels in organic and non-organic eggs are the same, you may be wondering what exactly are the benefits of organic eggs. The main benefit to choosing organic eggs over non-organic is the consumption of pesticides, toxic fertilizer and hormones.
When hens consume non-organic raised grains, their bodies absorb all the trace chemicals in the grains. These toxic chemicals are stored in their body fat. When the hen's body starts producing an egg, the toxic chemicals stored in their body fat is excreted into the yolks. So, when you eat a non-organic egg yolk, you are consuming trace amounts of toxic chemicals the chicken consumed.
Another huge benefit to supporting organic egg farmers is that their chickens are usually not raised in what are called "batteries". Batteries basically cram a ton of chickens into a very small space. The chickens are so crammed as a matter of fact, that non-organic egg farmers often "de-beak" young chicks to prevent cannibalism. Finally, chickens raised on non-organic, non-free range farms breathe in fecal matter dust all day long, which is toxic and contains salmonella. Again, these toxins are stored in the chicken's body fat and excreted into the egg yolk.
All chickens, whether organic or not are raised on some sort of grains. The organic farmer of course, uses only organic grains, while the non-organic farmer doesn't. In general, hen's on organic farms are fed, and have more access to, plant materials, which results in a richer looking and tasting egg yolk.
Though there are many other benefits to eating organic eggs, the cholesterol level isn't necessarily one of them. There are, to date, no studies that prove cholesterol levels in organic eggs is any different than non-organic eggs. In fact, eggs are one of the most nutrient rich foods you can consume offering a load of vitamins and minerals like choline, protein, zinc, B6 and B12. Keep in mind that each egg yolk, whether organic or not, contains around 1.5 grams of saturated fat. Remember, it's saturated fat that raises your cholesterol level and not necessarily the consuming cholesterol itself.