Are Darker Egg Yolks Healthier Than Light Egg Yolks?

One of the helpful things about organic produce is that it changes color to let you know whether or not you should be eating it, and a particular shade can give you a lot of information as to the quality of the product you’ve bought. If your bananas are still green, you’ll want to wait a few days before sinking your teeth into those; if you cut into a tomato and you find it’s starting to go a cloudy white color, you might want to give that one a miss as well. But if there’s one food whose color changing is nothing but a good thing, it’s egg yolks.


You might have thought eggs were pretty much yellow no matter what – fried eggs are called ‘sunny-side up’ for a reason, after all – but there is a lot of variety to be found in the humble egg yolk. You can find them in just about any shade from amber to bright orange, and a lot of this depends on the health of the hen that laid it. Beside the moral implications of consuming eggs laid by happy hens, there are some added health benefits to be gained from eating eggs with darker yolks.


Simply put, hens with a more diverse diet, more space to roam, and with little of the stress suffered within the brief lifespan of battery hens, will benefit the consumers who eat their eggs. Much of the nutritional content of their food makes its way into their eggs and this is what affects the shade of the yolks. But why is that exactly?


Why egg yolks can be different colors

Even cartons that have “pasture-raised” printed on them may not offer hens as much freedom to roam as you would think, given that the industry standard is just two square feet of pasture per hen. So even if you are led to believe your eggs will be of the highest quality from the happiest hens, you can still crack one of them open to discover the yolks are still a little pale. Therefore you can’t always rely on the packaging to determine the quality of your purchase – though you can be confident you’ll be getting the best ingredients on offer when you buy organic from independent farmers, just like Buffalo Market does (more on that at the end).

hens wandering around a free-range pasture

Now the color of an egg yolk depends on the hen’s diet and the amount of carotenoids therein: these are the pigments found in certain foods that lend them their characteristic orange or red colors, making tomatoes and red peppers red and keeping carrots orange.


Conversely, the paler and oftentimes runnier yolks seen in eggs laid by battery hens come out the way they do because of the lack of versatility within their diet. To keep costs low, caged hens will be fed corn or wheat, as well as numerous other additives, to provide the basic level of nutrition without shelling out too much on the costs. That corn is what keeps the yolks yellow, though to enhance their color, industrial farmers will add marigold petals or scraps of orange peel to the chicken feed, as well as paprika to heighten the reddish hues.  


Are orange egg yolks healthier?

While some debate surrounds the questions as to whether a darker shade of yolk equates to a higher dose of health benefits, there is enough evidence to prove that the improved lifestyle of a hen will give you a more nutritional egg. As a general rule, it should be said that all egg yolks will contain more fat and just under half the protein found in the egg white, but most of the many minerals and vitamins which eggs are famous for providing in such small packages will be found in the yolks themselves. 

free-range hen inspecting basket of pasture-raised eggs

The darker egg yolks that come from pasture-raised hens contains trace elements of fat-soluble vitamins, which a hen will have ingested from the bugs and earthworms consumed while foraging among the grass. While these amber-colored yolks will give you the same amount of protein as any other kind of egg yolk – as much as 6 grams in larger eggs – there is evidence to show that eggs laid by free-range hens provide a higher volume of vitamins and omega-3s, but less cholesterol, thanks to the healthier and more natural diet they consume. It is for this reason that it can be argued that darker egg yolks are better for you than lighter ones, making it little mystery as to why diners are beginning to find amber egg yolks in restaurants


Some chefs swear that the color of an egg’s yolk can actually intensify the experience of eating it, with a more vibrant shade of orange equating to a more vibrant taste. Supposedly the brighter hue of pasture-raised eggs contribute to the richness of its yolk, giving even more incentive to buy organic: it not only improves the wellbeing of the animal, but the quality of your meals. Of the many health benefits of eggs, you will find calcium, vitamins A and D, as well as iron and phosphorus, aiding everything in your body from respiration to sharpening the efficiency of your nervous system activity. So if you're going to get more of these superfoods into your diet, it pays to source them from happy hens. 


Now remember how we spoke about the guarantee for quality that comes with buying from independent farmers? Well, that’s exactly what you’ll be getting when you source your groceries and ingredients from Buffalo Market, offering premium-quality produce for every kitchen from the busiest of restaurants to the coziest of kitchens. Built on our long-standing relationships with small-scale, local farms across California, we are able to give you the best deals possible across an inventory of top-tier spices, herbs, fruit, vegetables, and so much more.


Among our product line up of more than 2,600 items, we are currently offering 180-egg crates of free-range and pasture-raised eggs for just $24.95 and $29.95, respectively, averaging at less than $2 per dozen. These eggs promise to be a rich, creamy, and delicious addition to any meal, thanks to the farms in which they’re housed, providing 50 square feet of open pasture to be explored by every hen – that’s 25 times the industry standard. More space means happier hens, which means better eggs for your omelets as well as a cleaner conscience for knowing your brunch came from a good home. Take a look at the expansive array of organic produce we have on sale at Buffalo Market and see how you can taste the difference that comes from a quality product.

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