Whether eggs are a healthy breakfast choice has been a subject of controversy in recent years. Now, scientists have discovered that the answer to that question may depend on what kind of food the hens are fed.
Omega-6 fatty acids, when present in hen’s feed, cause the animals to lay eggs that are high in cholesterol. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that these compounds can be a healthy part of a person’s diet, as they are necessary for proper development and brain function, but people’s bodies do not naturally make them.
However, when high levels of the acids are present as part of a hen’s diet, it causes the cholesterol in the eggs to have a higher oxidizing capacity. This process can lead to plaque formation in the arteries.
In order to get a hen to produce healthier eggs, its feed needs to consist of more wheat, milo and barley and of less soy, maize and sunflower. Researchers have found that this diet can help the animal produce eggs that have less “bad” cholesterol. People would potentially be able to consume more than the current recommended servings of eggs per day without worrying about increasing their cholesterol.
So why aren’t such eggs currently on the market? According to researcher Niva Shapira, M.D., people need to demand that greater concern be placed on the quality of food before farmers begin to make required adjustments.