Pastured vs. Omega-3 vs. Conventional Eggs: What’s the Difference?

Medically Reviewed on 8/25/2022
Pastured vs. Omega-3 vs. Conventional Eggs: What's the Difference
Learn about the differences between conventional, omega-3-enriched, and pastured eggs

Eggs are a nutritious and affordable staple in many households.

Though all types of eggs are good for you, their nutritional values differ depending on how the hens were raised and fed.

Learn about the differences between conventional, omega-3-enriched, and pastured eggs.

What are the different types of eggs?

  • Conventional eggs: These are standard supermarket eggs. The hens are usually fed grain that has been supplemented with vitamins and minerals.
  • Organic eggs: Organic eggs come from hens that are fed on organic feed free of pesticides and fertilizers and untreated with hormones or antibiotics.
  • Pastured eggs: Hens that lay pastured eggs are allowed to roam free, eating plants and insects along with some commercial feed.
  • Omega-3-enriched eggs: Similar to conventional eggs except that the hens’ feed is supplemented with an omega-3 fat source, either by:
    • Feeding the hens a source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) like flaxseeds
    • Supplementing fish oil in their diet, which contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a superior type of omega-3 over ALA.
  • Free-range eggs: Similar to pastured eggs where the hens have the option of going outside and feeding themselves.
  • Caged eggs: These eggs come from chickens that live in confinement and spend their lives in small cages eating grains and seeds.

What are the nutritional contents of eggs?

Table 1: Nutrients in 1 large egg (weighing 50 grams)
Nutrient Amount
Calories 71.5 kcal
Protein 6.3 grams
Fats 4.76 grams
Carbs 0.36 grams
Calcium 28 mg
Phosphorous 99 mg
Potassium 69 mg
Sodium 71 mg
Choline 147 mg
Folate 23.5 mcg
Selenium 15.4 mcg
Vitamin A 270 IU (International Units)
Vitamin D 41 IU

Table 2. Differences between pastured vs. omega-3 vs. conventional eggs
Pastured eggs Omega-3 eggs Conventional eggs
Type of hen Come from chickens that are free to walk around in the wild and scavenge for their food in woods and fields Come from chickens that eat flaxseed and/or fish oil supplemented feed Vary depending on the type of egg, whether chicken, turkey, duck, goose, or quail eggs
Feed Hens are allowed free access outside and eat a more natural diet Feed is supplemented with an omega-3 source Feed is typically grains supplemented with vitamins and minerals
Nutrients More nutritious (higher in vitamins A and E and omega-3s, as well as lower in cholesterol and saturated fat) Nutritious and a rich source of omega-3 Nutritious
Omega-3 content High High Normal
Cost Expensive Less expensive Inexpensive


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Which are better, omega-3 eggs or pastured eggs?

Both omega-3 eggs and pastured eggs are good for you, although the omega-3 fortified ones provide you with more omega-3 fatty acids

There have been numerous studies on omega-3 eggs, regarding both their composition and their health benefits. Some of the health benefits of omega-3 eggs include the following:

  • Better heart health: Some studies suggest that consuming omega-3 eggs has a statistically significant decrease in lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress thus leading to a reduction in markers of cardiovascular risk.
  • Good source of healthy fats: In chickens fed with fish extracts or fish oil, the level of docosahexaenoic acid in their eggs increases by between 3- 6-fold. Eggs fortified with omega-3 offer a reasonably good source of these essential fatty acids.

However, pastured eggs are the healthiest because they come from hens that are eating a more natural diet.

Which are the best eggs to buy?

At the end of the day, all eggs are good for you. The best eggs to buy depends on your preferences.

If eggs from healthy animals living in their natural environment are important to you, choose pastured eggs.

If cost matters to you or you cannot afford pastured eggs, conventional or omega-3 eggs are both good choices.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/25/2022
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