What’s the difference between brown and white eggs? Your egg questions, answered!

Eggs are a compact and convenient source of nutrition but there are still questions about this staple of many breakfasts, baked goods, and other foods. Here are some answers to often asked questions about eggs.

Q. What is the difference between brown, white and other colored eggs?

A. Variation in the shell color of eggs is the result of the hen laying the egg. There is no difference in the content of the egg because of the difference in the shell color. There may be a difference in their appearance on the outside but there is not a difference in flavor, nutrition, or how one might consume them. According to research by Kansas State University into the link between cholesterol content of the egg and the egg shell color, “an egg is an egg no matter what color the shell.” The color of the egg shell is determined by the hen’s genetics and breeding.

Q. Are darker egg yolks an indication of a better egg?

A. The color of the egg yolks is affected by what the hens are eating. Certain chicken feeds have properties that result in changes in the yolk color. According to University of Illinois Extension “birds that have access to green plants or have yellow corn or alfalfa in their feed tend to produce dark yolks.” Regardless of their color, according to the USDA, egg yolks are a good nutritional source of vitamin A and iron.

Q. What is that white stringy thing in the egg? Is it okay to eat?

A. That is called the chalazae and it connects the yolk to the egg white. It is just fine to eat it as part of the egg. Colorado State University Extension explains “the more pronounced the chalazae, the fresher the egg!”

Q. Are egg yolks healthy to eat?

A. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, unless you are on a restricted diet because of a health condition like heart disease or challenges controlling cholesterol, the whole egg is a good source of protein and, in moderation, can be part of a healthy diet. While it is true that egg yolks are higher in calories, fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol when compared to the egg white, the yolks also have more nutrients as well including calcium, vitamins A, B6 and D.

Q. How long will eggs stay fresh?

A. According to the USDA’s commodity fact sheet, eggs will stay fresh in the refrigerator for a month but can stay fresh as long as 45 days from fresh. The best way to keep eggs fresh is to keep them in their carton in a refrigerator that is at a constant 40 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, if your eggs are very fresh the whites will be cloudy.

If you have more things you’ve always wondered about your food, consult a member of the Community Food Systems team of Michigan State University Extension. For more information about how to keep eggs safe, consult information from Michigan State University Extension’s Food Safety Team.

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