Nutritionists Weigh In , Brown eggs are totally healthier, right? Right??
As a long-time lover of a nice, runny egg yolk, I always stock my fridge with a dozen (or two!) eggs.
Usually, though, I spend a good five minutes staring at the rows and rows of cartons at the grocery store before settling on which dozen I’ll bring home. Despite my tendency to go for the fancy-looking brown eggs (and pay the price), I often wonder whether they’re really any better than plain ol’ white eggs.
I got to the bottom of the brown eggs versus white eggs situation, so you can go from supermarket to sunny-side-up a whole lot quicker.
Eggs actually come in lots of different colors.
Though you might think the color of an eggshell says a lot about the egg inside it, it actually only reveals one simple (and not-so-important) bit of info: the breed of hen that laid it.
Leghorn chickens lay white eggs, while Orpington chickens lay brown eggs, according to Michigan State University. Meanwhile, other chickens produce even more colorful eggs. Ameraucana chickens lay blue eggs, while Olive Eggers produce eggs with an olive green hue.
Though all eggs start out white, different hens essentially dye the shells with varying pigments before releasing them, hence the spectrum of eggs on store shelves.
Brown eggs are not necessarily better for you.
“Because brown looks like a more ‘natural’ color and sticks out more, it often gives the impression that brown eggs are healthier,” Taub-Dix says. “But that’s really not true.”
Remember: The color of an egg’s shell has nothing to do with its nutritional quality. “All eggs are generally good sources of vitamins D and B12, and an inexpensive source of high-quality protein,” Taub-Dix says.
Like many other products, brown eggs are simply marketed to us as ‘healthier’ and more natural.
“Ultimately, quality comes down to the kind of environment the chicken lives in,” she explains. Raise two different types of chickens in the same conditions and on the same feed, and though their eggs may look different, they’ll offer similar nutrition.
Side note: In some cases, changes in the eggshell color of a particular chicken’s eggs can indicate defects or issues, says North Carolina State University. (If a hen’s usually-white eggs start popping out slightly yellow, for example, she’s stressed AF.) However, while these issues might affect a shell’s shade, they won’t turn a brown egg completely white or vice versa.
The color of the egg doesn’t change the flavor, either.
Just as an eggshell’s color doesn’t affect the nutritional value of its contents, it also doesn’t mess with flavor.
In fact, for decades, researchers have identified a chicken’s diet as the biggest influence on the flavor of its eggs. The amount of fat a hen eats, for example, has a notable impact. (Again, it’s the chicken’s environment that really matters!)
An egg’s freshness—and how it’s stored—can also affect how it tastes. According to North Carolina State University, eggs stored near strong-smelling foods (like in the refrigerator) often absorb some of their flavor.
But you’re not just imagining it—brown eggs do seem to cost more.
Food companies use the au naturale look of brown eggs to advertise them as “better for you,” and they also use that logic to sell brown eggs at a higher cost.
“It’s all about marketing,” says Taub-Dix. “I can’t tell you how many people who are trying to be healthier say to me, ‘Oh, I always splurge on brown eggs.’”
However, there might be one legitimate reason why some brown eggs sport a higher price tag: “The breed of chicken that lays brown eggs tends to be larger and may cost more to feed and raise,” Taub-Dix explains.