Benefits of Free-Range Chicken vs Traditional Chicken

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Head to your local grocery store and you’ll be inundated with seven different kinds of chicken and twelve different kinds of eggs, with each claiming to be better than the next, and using terms such as “free-range,” “organic,” and “vegetarian fed.”

So what exactly are free range chickens and are they actually better for you than all the others?

The US Department of Agriculture defines free-range chickens as those raised with at least some access to the outdoors. This does not mean that the chickens were left to wander around free during their life; it simply means that they had at least a small area in which to go outdoors.

Although research is still ongoing, there are some health benefits attributed to switching to free range chicken. The meat and eggs typically contain more omega-3 fatty acids than their cooped counterparts, and there are higher levels of vitamin A and E in free-range chickens, especially those who were pastured. Chickens with access to the outdoors are often healthier, and thus given less antibiotics and other medications during their lifetime.

The benefits of free-range chickens are most noticeable in the eggs. Those produced by hens that have access to the outdoors, and especially those that are pastured, contain less cholesterol and less saturated fat than traditionally sourced eggs. They also contain more vitamin A, triple the amount of vitamin E, and seven times the amount of beta carotene. Depending on what food source is available, free-range chickens can also lay eggs with healthy omega-3 fats.

Overall, free range chickens are healthier for the chickens themselves, and as a byproduct, healthier for you. Grass-fed beef also is a great example of how the quality and health benefits of the beef are directly affected by the diet and lifestyle of the cows.