This is a person’s worst nightmare – choosing between a pile of gently placed egg cartons. The first decision to make – brown or white eggs? Compared to white eggs, brown eggs are just healthier, right? So this is, not exactly. There is a common misconception among the egg.buying public that brown eggs are nutritionally better. In a study conducted in 2011, which examined how brown eggs entered the U.S. market for white eggs traditionally, the study authors found that this applies to marketers who are trying to make room for “special eggs.”
“Apparently, brown eggs are better candidates to be special eggs because the respondents surveyed thought that brown eggs were healthier than whites – a belief shared by the academic community,” the scientists wrote.
Ken Anderson, a professor at the University of North Carolina, says there is very little information to support this claim. “Generic brown egg and generic white egg are nutritionally identical,” Anderson says.
The science behind the color of the egg
How are colored eggs formed? This is mainly related to the breeding of the chickens, and not to what they eat, Anderson explains. Mediterranean.bred chickens, like the Minorca, usually lay white eggs, and Asian and American hens lay brown eggs, Anderson says.
As for the pigment, the white of the shell is basically a smooth plate, meaning it has no added pigment, whereas brown eggs get their color by secreting a pigment level that the chickens “spread” before laying.
The origin of the myth of brown and white eggs
Contrary to the assumptions that carrots help the eyes or that growth inhibiting coffee, both of which have been false campaigns of misinformation, which feeds their myths, the origin of the egg myth is a bit murky. But starting large.scale commercial egg farms is a place to start, Anderson says.
“From a historical point of view, birds that lay white eggs were mostly smaller birds,” says Anderson, “so it was easier to work with them and treat them on a large scale.”
In contrast, hens that lay in brown fleets, such as white Plymouth Rock, are usually larger and more difficult to assimilate into existing commercial laying infrastructure. This is also why you are more likely to see brown eggs labeled as organic or free, Anderson says, because these chickens are less suitable for the crowded commercial alternative.
Regardless, the debate is not new: a preference for certain eggs is also cultural. For example, in Japan uniform dark brown eggs are the most preferred, while in Europe light brown eggs are considered the best option.
Are brown eggs healthier?
Anderson has partnered with several studies that directly compared the diet of brown and white eggs, including a study conducted in 2010 and examined egg samples found in grocery stores, and a more controlled study from 2013 that focused on chickens fed the same type of food. In both studies, Anderson says he and his colleagues found remarkably small differences in the overall nutritional content of eggs – with white eggs sometimes being slightly richer in nutrients or vitamins from the walls, or vice versa. In the end, Anderson says those differences were negligible.
“I went through these data with some certified dietitians, and they said that these subtle differences would not really affect human nutrition,” Anderson says. To really make an impact, Anderson says differences should be at least 10.25 percent or more, which in practice were not.
So which egg should you buy?
There are many reasons why you should still choose to buy brown eggs over whites, whether you support local agriculture or prefer organic eggs without antibiotics. Anderson says consumers may also prefer nutrient.enriched eggs, which have higher vitamin levels and less saturated fat than traditional eggs.
But when it comes to nutrition, at the end of the day, Anderson says that an egg is still an egg, and you can’t go wrong – no matter which egg you choose. “All the eggs are very nutritious,” Anderson says. And what eggs does Anderson buy? “Very simple – I buy according to the price.“