In the fight to eat more nutritiously, consumers are choosing more natural products. One such food, which is the subject of much controversy, are eggs. Some people believe that there is absolutely no difference between free range and cage grown eggs besides the price, but other claim free ranged eggs taste better and are of better quality. New research suggests this may be true, much to the dismay of thrifty shoppers.
A study conducted at the University of Adelaide wanted to shed more light on this issue and find out if free range eggs are actually better quality and not just hype. Free range egg producers go as far as stating that their eggs are much safer to eat and more nutritious, which has left many quite skeptical. The popularity of free range eggs may also be in part due to the fact that people think caging birds is a cruel practice, and the free range birds are “happier,” therefore producing better eggs.
The study in question led researchers to conduct focus group studies and shopping mall interviews asking about people’s food purchasing habits. A total of 73 participants were included in the study, all of mixed age and gender. The researchers categorized the reasons that people gave for choosing the food they did, including ethical values.
“Taste and quality are strong motivations for purchasing and may be part of the reason why people are prepared to pay a higher price. More importantly, these findings suggest that consumers think about animal welfare in a much broader way than we previously thought, and in particular they believe that better welfare is connected to a better quality product,” said lead author Dr. Heather J. Bray from the School of Humanities and the Food Values Research Group at the University of Adelaide
Of the available information on free ranged eggs, data has been unable to prove free range eggs are healthier, with results varying from source to source. However, the following benefits of free range eggs are the ones seen on average:
- Contain twice as much omega-3 fatty acids
- Contain three times as much vitamin E
- Contain seven times more provitamin A beta-carotene
- Have a quarter less saturated fat
- Have a third less cholesterol
Whatever type of eggs you buy, they’ll be packed with nutrients and healthy fats—it may only come down to preference in the end.