I am a big fan of urban homesteads that have small food producing animals, so of course I had to add some feathered family members to the Freeman home! Over a year ago we adopted some Americauana chicks – Doodoo, Chickoletta and Camilla – who are all sisters.
Ameraucanas lay beautiful, pale blue eggs every day, and these little ladies started laying on Easter Day this year! (Imagine my surprise when I tried to hide eggs for the girls in the coop… only to find real eggs!)
We let them free range in the back yard, spoil them with a fortress of a chicken coop when weather is inclement (which is pretty much never in Central California) and supplement their diet with organic, non-GMO feed and veggie scraps. In return they humor our daughters with their antics, and take care of our weeds, spiders, and insects – and twice they massacred a rat. That was… interesting.
Oh! And they let us eat their eggs, which – some people don’t know this, so don’t roll your eyes at me if you already do – hens lay eggs every day, with or without a rooster, and without a rooster the eggs are not fertilized. If we don’t eat the eggs, or give them to friends who will, the eggs will literally just sit there. And rot. And since our gals are free range, that has happened on more than one occasion when they find a new hiding hole to lay in.
Our chickens are first and foremost our spoiled pets, and only secondarily a source of humanely produced eggs. The edible aspect of pet chickens is like a tasty, protein packed perk!
Compared to factory raised eggs, backyard eggs have:
– 25 percent more vitamin E
– 75 percent more beta carotene
– As much as 20 times the amount of omega-3 fatty acid
– About half as much cholesterol as factory farmed eggs
– Happier, healthier chickens, which means healthier, fresher eggs
Crack open a store-bought egg, then crack open an egg from the local farmers’ market (or your own backyard). The egg from the store will feature a thin shell, pale yolk that breaks easily and watery white. The flavor will be bland, the texture slippery.
A backyard bird’s egg will boast thick shells, firm whites and an unbelievably bright yolk (often bright orange, representing all the beta carotene inside). The flavor will be much stronger and fresher.
Recently I have been studying Mercola articles, and making lifestyle and diet changes with heart health and hormonal health in mind. After reading multiple articles and medical studies on the topic, now one of the main reasons I eat eggs is for heart health. Long vilified by well-meaning doctors and scientists for their high cholesterol content, eggs are now making a bit of a comeback in medical and nutrition circles, and I feel so blessed to have a ready source of these tasty natural foods right in our own backyard (literally!).
Three Heart Healthy Benefits of Organic Backyard Chicken Eggs
1. Eggs Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
One reason eggs are such a heart-healthy food option is due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids. Free-range eggs, as mentioned above, have up to 20 times the amount of omega-3s than cage-raised eggs. They also have more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff than cage-raised eggs. Omega-3 fatty acids, consumed as part of a healthy diet, lower blood triglycerides and help regulate and lower cholesterol.
High triglycerides are considered a serious risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and the reverse is also true. Low blood triglyceride levels equal a smaller risk for developing heart disease.
In addition to lowering blood triglycerides, eggs have been observed in clinical trials to regulate cholesterol absorption and inflammation in the bloodstream, balancing the ratio of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) to low-density lipoproteins (LDLs). This also helps lower the risk of coronary heart disease.
2. Eggs Reduce Your Risk of Heart Attack
As a great protein food (with a complete amino acid profile), eggs help your body keep building more of the best version of you. They’re such a high-quality source of protein that the World Health Organization uses them as the standard for evaluating protein quality in other foods!
The protein in eggs can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and help you maintain a healthy weight. By choosing the healthy proteins in eggs over high-fat meat options, you can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Chronic low-grade inflammation is intimately involved in all stages of atherosclerosis, the process that leads to cholesterol-clogged arteries. This means that inflammation sets the stage for heart attacks, most strokes, peripheral artery disease, and even vascular dementia, a common cause of memory loss.
The high levels of choline found in eggs has been specifically shown to reduce inflammation, and as we know inflammation plays an enormous role in the development of heart disease, heart attacks, and many other diseases such as osteoporosis, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s, as well as type-2 diabetes.
3. Eggs Improve Your Cardiovascular Function
Eggs can help keep your heart beating healthier and longer. A comprehensive study released in 2015 discussed the assumption many people across the world have that the fat content in eggs is actually dangerous to those at risk for heart disease or who have diabetes. However, consuming eggs proved to be beneficial across the board, regardless of pre-existing conditions.
Studies have started pouring in pretty heavily in medical journals in the last 15 years showing that eggs contain nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease, including protein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin, folate and the little known nutrient betaine.
Eggs are also a good source of tons of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They contain the cancer-fighting selenium, thyroid-regulating iodine, perfect protein, energy-boosting B vitamins, antioxidants lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin A for eye health, iron, as well as being one of the few food sources of the incredible vitamin D.