Tuesday, January 8, 2013

On the Benefits of Pastured Chicken Eggs

Today's bounty from the henhouse
Along with raw milk and fermented dairy products, eggs from pastured chickens are one of the most nourishing foods on the planet.  Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride compares raw egg yolk to human breast milk because it can be absorbed almost 100% without needing digestion.  Egg yolks will provide you with the most essential amino acids, many vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12, A, D, biotin), essential fatty acids, zinc magnesium and numerous other nutrients. 

We have a whole batch of young chickens hatched late spring here on the farm that just started laying and we once again have eggs for sale in the milk fridge.  You can tell from their vivid yellow-orange yolks that the chickens are eating their traditional diet of bugs, slugs, worms, even the occasional mouse or frog, supplemented with organic feed that is soy and corn free.  All these nutrients translate to a rich store of health enhancing carotenes.  The more carotenes, the darker, deeper orange color the yolk—and the higher the levels of fat-soluble vitamins as well. Eggs from pastured chickens also provide all eight essential protein building amino acids.

Our girls are out on green grass year round
For us parents, soft-boiled egg yolks are a great first food for baby.  Egg yolks, rich in choline, cholesterol and other brain-nourishing substances, can be added to your baby's diet as early as four months. (If baby reacts poorly to egg yolk at that age, discontinue and try again one month later.) Cholesterol is vital for the insulation of the nerves in the brain and the entire central nervous system. Since the brain is so dependent on cholesterol, it is especially vital during this time when brain growth is in hyper-speed.  Choline is another critical nutrient for brain development.

Store bought eggs on the left, eggs from our pastured chickens right
Why just the yolk for babies? The white is the portion that most often causes allergic reactions, so wait to give egg whites until after your child turns one.

In years past eggs have gotten a bad rap and if you listen to mainstream media you probably were scared to eat more than a couple eggs a week.  There is a great body of scientific evidence explaining how the body produces cholesterol as it's needed, to make up for what your diet doesn't supply.  Eating foods rich in cholesterol takes some of the work load off your body and even if you religiously follow a completely cholesterol-free diet, you will still have a lot of cholesterol in your body.  Your body has mechanisms in place to balance the cholesterol levels in your blood, whether you get it from food or it's produced by your body. Some people's natural, healthy cholesterol level is higher than others and a healthy body will balance this. 

Best idea yet - try to keep a few of your own hens in your yard so you always have an abundant source of nutrient dense eggs to eat or barter, or find a friend willing to house chickens for both of you. 

Truly pastured chicken eggs are hard to find but worth every effort to attain them! 

Charlotte Smith
Charlotte passionately believes in the health benefits of a traditional foods diet, especially dairy products from grass-fed cows. She loves sharing time honored traditions of transforming milk into delicious and nutritious cheeses through her classes which also teem with nutrition facts and wisdom. Charlotte owns Champoeg Creamery, a pasture based raw milk dairy in St. Paul, Oregon, and is the mother of 3, a certified Nutrition Wellness Educator, and sits on the Executive Advisory Council for the Raw Milk Institute.


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