Not sure if you have every paid too much attention to egg marketing – odds are probably not, for most of us, eggs are seen as a consumer product i.e. an egg, is an egg. Brand X is not going to be too different from brand Y, so choices are made on price.
But, the selling point of the major brands is often that the egg has been produced by a GRAIN FED chicken. And every South African knows, that a certain brand of chicken “TASTE SO GOOD BECAUSE THEY EAT SO GOOD”.
But GRAIN FED may be an indictment, not an accolade for those eggs.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University’s School of Health have investigated egg-actly what is inside hen’s eggs, following different diets.
What do chickens eat ?
Now hens don’t really have the option of low fat, high carbohydrate versus high fat, low carbohydrate etc. diets. The options are different types of seeds, or for the very “unlucky” ones, whatever morsel they can find, whether animal or mineral.
At the end of the day, the chicken’s diet can be classed as high or low in omega-6 fatty acids, based on the type of plant material being consumed. The standard chicken feed is based on maize, soy and maize oils, these are all products high in omega-6, so the average chicken is on a high omega-6 diet.
Chickens go on diet
The Israeli team decided to put their chicks on a specially formulated diet, high in anti-oxidants and low in omega-6 fatty acids.
The low omega-6 feed include wheat, barely and milo grains. These grains that are not usually fed to chicks, because they are more expensive, making the eggs produced by these hens quite literally “golden” eggs.
Eggs are not created equal
The team then put some humans on an egg diet, loading up the egg trays of three groups of people :
- Group 1’s tray was loaded with the designer eggs (low omega-6)
- Group 2 and Group 3’s trays were loaded with eggs from the local supermarket (high omega-6).
Group 1 and 2 were required to consume two eggs every day. The third group were asked to limit their egg consumption to two to four eggs in the week.
The people munching two industry-standard type eggs, everyday saw their levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) rise.
People only consuming 2-4 eggs a week and those on the two designer eggs a day, did not see any change in the levels of LDL.
Omegas and health
Eggs have over the years got lots of bad press, with much of the finger pointing being aimed at cholesterol, not omega 6. This research provides evidence that cholesterol is not the problem but too much omega-6 is.
Omega-6 is everywhere, both chicken feed and human food, is full of it.
Maize, seed oils such as sunflower oil and margarine, as well as eggs, meat and dairy are loaded with omega 6.
Omega-6 has been shown to cause inflammation, which contributes to blocked blood vessels and cardiovascular disease.
Time for a rethink on eggs
Cutting out eggs is not going to fix the underlying imbalance in body chemistry, brought on by omega imbalances.
It would need an agricultural revolution and a dietary overhaul to bring omega-6 levels down – the emphasis should be on getting the eicosanoid ratio balanced.
Balance the eicosanoids
Omega-3 levels can be boosted by including more fatty fish in the diet or taking a omega-3 supplement. How much you need, depends on how much omega-6 is in your diet, as well as the overall level of inflammation in your body.
PS. Don’t get misled by the marketing hype that implies grain fed is great. Too many grains are not good for you or for chickens.Can Eggs Be a Healthy Breakfast Choice? – press release appearing on American Friends Tel Aviv University.
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