by | Jul 16, 2019 | Pastured Meat & Eggs

Caged Vs. Pastured Eggs: Is There Really A Difference?

Eggs are great for breakfast and at any time in between. They’re wonderful fried, hard-boiled, baked, scrambled…you name it! You can even find raw egg yolks in authentic ice creams, mayonnaise, and hollandaise sauce. I often add a few raw pastured egg yolks to milk kefir smoothies to nutritionally fortify them and increase their creamy texture. Delicious 🙂

Unfortunately, eggs are frequently demonized due to high cholesterol, problematic egg sensitivities or allergies, and because probably most people are unaware of the amazing beneficial properties of pastured eggs. Unless you’re sensitive or allergic to eggs, eggs of the pastured variety pack a nutritional punch that’s worth taking advantage of. In this article, we will highlight a few of the differences so that you can know the truth about eggs from healthy, happy hens.

Pastured eggs contain significantly more vitamin A, E, omega 3s, and beta carotene, and less saturated fats and cholesterol compared to caged supermarket eggs.

Let’s look at the results of a study by Cambridge University and what the results could mean for you. 

  1. Pastured hens’ eggs contain 2x as much vitamin E as caged hens’ eggs. More vitamin E means less cell damage in your body and longer cell life because of its strong antioxidant properties, according to this article
  2. Pastured hens’ eggs contain 2x as much long-chain omega 3 fats and 2.5x as much omega-3 fatty acids as caged hens’ eggs. Omega-3 fats and fatty acids give you many benefits, and, as discussed and sourced in this article, omega-3s improve eye health, promote brain health in early-life stages such as pregnancy and infancy, help fight age-related mental decline, improve risk factors for heart disease, reduce symptoms of ADHD in children, fight inflammation and autoimmune diseases, may help prevent cancer, and the list goes on and on.
  3. Pastured hens’ eggs contain less than 1/2 the ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids as caged hens’ eggs. Again, when omega-fats are kept in healthier ratios, the benefits above prove themselves to be worthwhile. The effects of omega-3 fatty acids are more pronounced when they are regularly eaten in proper ratios with omega 6 fatty acids, which help the body itself maintain a better omega-6:omega-3 ratio.
  4. Vitamin A concentration was 38% higher in the pastured hens’ eggs than in the caged hens’ eggs, but total vitamin A per egg did not differ. The egg size probably accounts for the unchanging total vitamin A per egg. Proper levels of vitamin A means healthy skin, reproductive health, eyes, immune system, bones, and can even reduce cancer risk. 

An even more detailed study done by Mother Earth News had 14 pastured chicken flocks from around the country tested by an accredited laboratory in Portland, Oregon. They compared the eggs from pastured chickens to the official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, and they found that eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:

• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene

A couple more points for “food for thought”…

  1. Pastured eggs come from healthier chickens that in turn make you healthier; as we discussed in a previous article, one cannot reasonably expect to be healthy if he/she eats products from sick animals. This is just one more reason to invest in your health, your future, and, of course, your taste buds! Your body will thank you.
  2. When chickens are allowed to nourish themselves freely on pasture, yet another benefit is healthier grass and soil. Pastured chickens fertilize the ground making the grass grow even lusher for cows, pigs, or other animals to harvest later — no chemical fertilizing necessary.

Pastured eggs are far safer, more delicious, and nutrient-dense than their conventional competitors. They may cost more, but, at least in my household, it’s worth the purchase. Now go and make yourself some homemade Eggs Benedict and have some homemade ice cream from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. You won’t regret it!

Additional reading:

  • For Mother Earth News’ awesome article about the nutrition of pastured eggs
  • Interested in raising your own chickens for meat and eggs? Check out this WAPF article 

What is your favorite way to enjoy eggs? Have you tried fermenting them or eating them raw? Let me know! I love learning about food and trying new things 🙂

Written by:


Diane is a wife, mother, and researcher with the goal of restoring the practice of traditional holistic approaches to wellness and sharing evidence-based information with the public. She lives in Grand Forks North Dakota with her husband and four children and receives raw milk and pastured meats from Bartlett Farms.


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