We ended up cracking a few eggs: What is good, and what is not? Kienyeji or ‘grade’ eggs? How many is too many? What of the concerns that eggs cause certain health condition?

Brown eggs in carton on white with clipping path

Eggs are controversial. In the list of foods mired in health conspiracies, a chicken egg is right up there. I am old enough to remember when eggs were good, then bad, and then dangerously bad that they could give you a heart attack.  Now I am grown and I still get more of the talk about chicken eggs, the conventional egg versus ‘Kienyeji’ egg (you can call it caged chicken egg versus free range chicken egg).

In case you have wondered, like most people, the difference between the eggs from these two groups of chicken, and whether there are health risks associated with either… you might want to read this.

Feeding patterns of free-range chicken versus caged chicken

Free range…?

Free range birds are the type that is reared outdoors, free at home or in the farms. They eat grains, pasture, grass, compost, locusts, snails, bugs, ants and other insects. They are treated humanely; they roam outdoors with plenty of space. They exercise, scratch the ground for food spread their wings and do all things chicken do. They feed on organic material, free from any agricultural chemicals. They are not treated with hormones, antibiotics and other pharmaceutical substances.

Monica Mwamburi a chicken supplier in Mombasa keeps both kienyeji and layers on large scale explains, ‘Kienyeji chicken don’t call for more intensive care as the layers, I feed them with grain then let them go and scavenge for pasture ,grass and insects. This breed also less costly in terms of production as they possess desirable traits like they are resistant to diseases, and can survive in harsh environmental conditions like during rainy seasons when diseases outbreak, they are hardy.’

Caged birds are those that are kept indoors, either in a small cage (1.5 ft) or a closed room. They take a short time to mature owing to what they feed on. They are fed on industrial feed and treated with hormones for growth. They are prone to diseases hence they are treated with antibiotics and pharmaceutical products frequently.

Benefits of ‘kienyeji’ egg compared to ‘grade’ egg.

The good one…

You might have gone to the shop in your estate and asked for eggs and the shopkeeper tells you kienyeji eggs are a price higher than the conventional (grade) ones. Meaning it offers something more than its grade counterpart.

According to Frances Amukanga a nutritionist, kienyeji eggs are more nutritious than the caged ones. ‘Kienyeji eggs are among the few foods considered as complete protein because they contain all 9 essential amino acids (building blocks for the body, vitamins and minerals passed from what they feed on. ‘Essential’ meaning that your body can not synthesize them from other food components.’

She adds that since eggs don’t contain any carbs they are recommended for people with diabetes to help them balance blood sugar.

Ovo-vegetarians are also encouraged to include an egg in their diet, like three in a week. They are a source of vitamin B12 and foliate that supports neurological functions like memory, decision making and balance.

More goodness

For pregnant and breastfeeding women, an egg in your plate may be of great importance. Eggs contain choline, a vital nutrient for foetal brain development. According to the The Queen of Fats a book authored by Susan Allport eggs contain Omega-3 fats that play a critical role in brain function and growth. Eggs also contain folic acid which prevents congenital disabilities like spina bifida.

Egg yolk is a good source of vitamin D which is necessary for strong bones and teeth. An independent study conducted by Mother Earth News confirms that free ranging chicken lay eggs with two times Omega 3s, one third of the cholesterol and one fourth of the saturated fat as conventional eggs.

Mrs. Monica Mwamburi asserts that kienyeji egg is tastier than the other one, ‘even the yellow colour of their yolk is darker and it is more appetizing than the conventional one.’

Any dangers?

No you can’t eat all of them.

Though eggs have been eaten for years, excessive consumption of egg protein has been linked to a number of health conditions. These include; dehydration, nausea, cardiovascular diseases, kidney disorders, cancers and many more.

A study by JAMA published online found higher intakes of cholesterol in eggs and that participants who ate two eggs per day had a 27% increase of developing (CDV) heart diseases. Another 32 year study done by researchers from Massachusetts University Lowell published in American Medical journal revealed that eggs; especially the yolk is a major source of dietary cholesterol.

Raw and uncooked eggs may contain bacteria that may enter your body by ingestion- this is for those people who eat raw eggs. Those that have cracked eggs, keeping them for long, (4 months on) exposes you to health risks.

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