Eggs on a Mission---How to Choose the Right Egg

eggseggsIt used to be that the biggest difference between two eggs was the color of their shells. (For the record, brown and white eggs are identical inside--low in calories and packed with nutrients) But these days, we can choose eggs that may actually be healthier for the hens, the environment, and us. And we are choosing: Sales of enhanced, organic, and cage-free specialty eggs are growing by approximately 25% a year.

The most exciting new trend in specialty eggs is the addition of omega-3 fatty acids, which has helped the incredible edible overcome its unfair reputation as a danger to your heart. (One egg has about 215 mg of cholesterol--nearly a day's worth. But a moderate intake of eggs is still healthy for most of us.) Other specialty eggs, such as the ethical-sounding cage free and the environmental-minded organic, may not confer specific health benefits, but they just might help you feel like you're making the world a better place (and maybe you are). Still, are they and other specialty eggs worth the extra money? Here's what we know about three specialty picks.

Read:Do's and Don'ts When Eating Eggs

If you want to
BOOST HEART HEALTH

Consider: Omega-3-enriched eggs Many producers now add sources of omega-3 fats such as flaxseed or canola oil to the hens' feed to increase the healthy fat in their eggs. Studies show that omega-3s may help prevent heart attacks, but a common source in our diets is canned tuna--which is not the safest pick when it comes to mercury. Eggs? Mainly mercury free.

Shop smart: Cartons carrying the USDA-certified label have been inspected, so you can feel confident that their claims (such as "omega-3 enhanced") are valid.

Read:How Many Calories In An Egg?

If you want to
SHOP ETHICALLY

Consider: Certified humane eggs Nutritionally, the term cage free means nothing; this category appeals mainly to those concerned about the health and safety of chickens. Cage-free hens aren't necessarily pecking away happily in open areas, though. Their beaks may be trimmed to prevent aggressive behavior, and their feed is controlled. And chickens tend to crowd near food and water regardless of space.

Shop smart: The Certified Humane Raised and Handled label means your eggs went through a voluntary, thorough inspection process by an independent animal-welfare group (certifiedhumane.com).

Read:Does Eat Raw Eggs Nutritious?

If you want to
HELP THE PLANET

Consider: Certified organic eggs Organic eggs come from hens whose feed is not irradiated, genetically engineered, treated with synthetic pesticides or fertilizer, or made with animal byproducts, but there's no clear evidence that organic eggs contain fewer pesticides than conventional ones.

Shop smart: Although organic is a meaningful, USDA-regulated term, don't be fooled by labels that read natural or hormone free--those words apply to all eggs.

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