A Beginner's Guide to Chicken Eggs

Chicken that Lays Colored Eggs

Beautiful Blueish, Greenish Pinkest Americana Chicken Eggs
Beautiful Blueish, Greenish Pinkest Americana Chicken Eggs | Source

For millennia, humans have valued eggs as an outstanding source of food, and early man gathered wild bird eggs to serve as a nutritious addition to their diet. Over the centuries, farmers domesticated various fowl, using both their eggs and meat as food. Today, the most commonly eaten eggs around the world are chicken eggs. Inexpensive, full of nutrients and extremely versatile in their preparation, domesticated chicken eggs are eaten alone, used in savory dishes and are an essential ingredient in wide range of baked goods.

Chicken eggs are basically composed of three parts, the yellow yolk, the white albumen and the hard outer shell. The eggshell, made of calcium carbonate, serves to protect the egg from contamination, crushing and loss of moisture. Although the shell has thin inner and outer additional protective layers, it is porous and odors from other foods in the refrigerator can seep into the eggs. Keeping them in their original packaging helps prevent this.

The color of the shell depends on the breed of chicken, and people from various regions sometimes have strong preferences for either white or brown eggs. The color has nothing to do with the nutritional quality of the eggs or the feed that hens eat; it is based solely on the genetics of the breed of chicken. While brown and white eggs are the most common, there are breeds of chickens that lay other colors such as green or blue. Most chicken breeds developed in the United States lay brown eggs.

The egg yolk is the yellow center of the egg and is used as a food source by the developing chick. When hens are kept separate from roosters, the eggs are not fertilized, and no chicks develop. These are the chicken eggs that are primarily sold for human consumption. As some people prefer eating fertilized eggs, these are sometimes available, but the chick never develops as the eggs are kept too cool for this to happen.

The yolk of the egg contains 75 percent of the calories found in the egg, as it is the substance that will supply energy and nutrients to a developing chick. Although the yolk contains cholesterol and fats, there is no longer a consensus on the health effects of eating eggs. For a while, egg yolks were considered a risk to cardiovascular health, but studies do not conclusively show any health dangers from eating the cholesterol in eggs. The yolk also contains vitamins, minerals and protein. The color of the yolk, ranging from bright to deep yellow, depends on the hen's diet. Free ranging chickens who forage for food often produce brighter yellow yolks, while hens that eat a diet lacking in colorful foods produce very pale yolks.

Surrounding the yolk is the white or albumen of the egg. In very fresh eggs, the white is cloudy, but as eggs get older, they become more watery. In the whites of chicken eggs, twisted chords called chalaza hold the yolk in place. As the eggs age, these chords become less apparent. The white of chicken eggs is also rich in protein. In fact, chicken eggs are one of the highest quality protein sources known to man.

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