budget nutrition

Are Fancy Eggs Worth It? (Comparing Cost + Nutrition of Eggs, Cage-Free Eggs, & Flax Eggs)

These days, cage-free eggs seem to be all the rage. But so far I haven’t been able to bring myself to buy them; they’re just so expensive!

But I also had this thought in the back of my head that regular eggs aren’t the healthiest thing. Something about cholesterol and unhealthy fats? It was sort of a vague idea, something I had yet to really dig into.

This article represents my attempt to dig a little deeper into eggs and egg substitutes. (I do sometimes use flax eggs in baking, for example.) I wanted to know the pros and cons of all the eggs, both nutritionally and financially. So here’s a look at the fat, cholesterol, carbs, and protein of eggs, cage-free eggs, and flax eggs. And of course, I had to finish it off with a cost comparison.

Let’s get started! (Or if you don’t have time for the full breakdown, jump ahead to my list of pros and cons!)

Comparing Egg Nutrition


I’ll be looking at two main types of fats here: saturated fat (bad), and Omega-3s (good). Your body needs fat, but we want to make sure to limit the bad fats and get enough of the good.

Flax seed is one of the best sources of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a type of Omega-3 fatty acid. Unfortunately, ALA isn’t as desirable as some Omega-3s since, as this article from Healthline explains, “your body needs to convert the ALA in flax seeds to EPA and DHA — a process that is often inefficient.” One Tbsp of flax seed (the amount used in a flax egg) contains 1.8 grams of Omega-3s. A flax egg also has 0 grams of saturated fat (hooray!).

Regular eggs are a little harder to classify. I searched and searched, and I was unable to find information on the amount of Omega-3s in regular eggs. But when it comes to saturated fat, regular eggs have 1.5 grams per egg.

Cage-free eggs are also hard to pin down, because not all cage-free eggs are created equal. (Here’s a great articleexplaining different kinds!) Does cage-free mean the chickens are just not in a cage but still being fed the same old feed? This is better for animal rights (although once again, cage-free doesn’t necessarily mean they have lots of space), but it won’t make much difference nutritionally. We want chickens who have gone around scavenging, eating lots of yummy bugs (free range, pastured or pasture-fed eggs). Or hens that were deliberately fed diets to enrich their Omega-3s (Omega-3 enriched eggs). This is what translates to those healthy fats.

The best bet to find cage-free eggs high in healthy fats is to look for labels that guarantee a certain amount of Omega-3s per egg. For this comparison, I chose the cheapest cage-free egg I could find that still had some type of Omega-3 guarantee — HEB’s AA Cage Free White Large Eggs. HEB is a Texas thing, but I’m sure you can find similar generic products in stores near you. 🙂 These particular eggs boast 100 mg of Omega-3s per egg. For comparison, this is 0.1 gram, which is 18 times less than a flax egg. Cage-free eggs have a little less saturated fat than regular eggs with 1 gramper egg.

To be fair to other cage-free eggs, I did a quick search to see what the range is. HEB’s are on the low end with 100 mg. The eggs that list their Omega-3 content range anywhere from 100 to 600 mg, though most are around 100-300 mg. (Check out this article for some specific brands and their Omega-3 content.) But these higher Omega-3 eggs, especially the ones up into the 400-600 range, were crazy expensive. Like $6 a dozen expensive. So for those of us who hate spending money (me!), I looked at the cheapest option.


Eggs get a bad rap sometimes because they’re high in cholesterol, which may be problematic for heart health. But while they do have a lot of cholesterol, research has shown that saturated fat is a bigger issue than high-cholesterol foods. In fact, one analysis of studies on 177,000 people found no correlation between egg consumption and cardiovascular disease. (For more info on dietary cholesterol, check out this article from the Harvard School of Public Health.)

That said, let’s take a look at the cholesterol content of our three eggs.

Flax eggs: 0 mg cholesterol

Regular eggs: 185 mg cholesterol

Cage-free eggs: 175 mg cholesterol

(Other brands/types of cage-free eggs had a similar cholesterol content.)


The protein in flax seed is almost complete, but it’s missing one amino acid, lysine. Legumes are high in lysine, so as long as you get some beans you’re okay. 😉 Eggs, cage-free and regular, on the other hand, contain complete protein.

Flax egg: 1.5 grams protein

Regular egg: 6 grams protein

Cage-free egg: 6 grams protein

Carbohydrates & Fiber

Most of the carbs in flax seeds come from fiber. This means they won’t spike your blood sugar like other carbs might. One flax egg has about 1.5 grams fiber and 2 grams of total carbohydrates.

On the other hand, both cage free and regular eggs have no carbs and no fiber. Not necessarily good or bad, but it just depends on what you’re looking for nutritionally.

Saturated Fat (g)Omega-3s (mg)Cholesterol (mg)Protein (g)Carbs/Fiber (g)
Flax Eggs0180001.51.5/2
Regular Eggs1.5??18560/0
Cage-Free Eggs
(HEB Cage-Free Large White)
(Nutrition comparison between flax eggs, regular eggs, and cage-free eggs. Information taken from nutrition facts of each product.)

Comparing Egg Cost

Obviously, prices will vary slightly depending on where you live. But generally, the ratios should be about the same.

I buy a big 32 oz bag of flaxseed meal from Walmart for $4.70. It has 140 Tbsp in a bag, which yields 140 flax eggs. This comes out to 3.4 cents per egg.

For an 18 count package of Great Value large Grade A eggs, it costs $1.45. That comes out to 8.1 cents per egg.

Cage free eggs vary greatly in cost, but all are more expensive than both flaxseed meal and regular eggs. For the HEB cage-free eggs, an 18 count package costs $3.69 — about 20.5 cents per egg.

Cost per gram of protein

While flax eggs are by far the cheapest, they also contain much less protein. So I decided to price it out by cost per gram of protein as well, using the same prices I mentioned earlier. Here are the results:

Flax eggs: 2.3 cents per gram of protein

Regular eggs: 1.4 cents per gram of protein

Cage-free eggs: 3.4 cents per gram of protein

Cost per gram of omega-3s

I’m including both cost per gram of protein as well as cost per gram of Omega-3s, because once again, this totally depends on what you’re looking for nutritionally.

Flax eggs: 1.9 cents per gram of Omega-3s

Regular eggs: Variable

Cage-free eggs: 205 cents (aka $2.05) per gram of Omega-3s

Cost per Egg (cents)Cost per g Protein (cents)Cost per g Omega-3s (cents)
Flax Eggs3.42.31.9
Regular Eggs8.11.4??
Cage-free Eggs
(HEB Cage-free Large White)
20.53.4205 (aka $2.05)
(Cost comparison between flax eggs, regular eggs, and cage-free eggs. Information taken from nutritional facts of each product and local product prices at Walmart & HEB.)

Which egg is best?

I learned a lot as I really dug into different egg options. I already knew some things generally (flax seed has lots of Omega-3s, eggs have more protein, etc.), but it was really interesting to see the numbers all laid out next to each other.

If you’re looking to add more Omega-3s to your diet, flax eggs are a really cost-effective way to go — way cheaper than the cage-free eggs that boast of Omega-3s. Although it’s unclear how the inefficiency of ALA affects that analysis. On the other hand, if you’re looking for straight up protein, regular eggs are the cheapest per gram.

Personally, we still buy regular eggs and eat them occasionally — scrambled eggs for breakfast burritos, a fried egg to go on my favorite bibimbap bowl, etc. But when it comes to baking, I’ll often substitute at least one of the eggs for a flax egg, both to limit our cholesterol/saturated fat and to add in some extra Omega-3s.

Of course, there are other pros and cons to all these eggs (like you can’t do scrambled eggs with flaxseed, or the high cholesterol in eggs). But I hope this gave you some tools so you can figure out how to meet your nutritional needs, all without breaking the bank.

Flax Eggs-Good for long-term storage
-Cost-effective source of Omega-3s
-Good source of fiber
-No cholesterol or saturated fat
-Can’t sub for all egg stuff
-High in ALA, which is a less efficient Omega-3
-Not as much protein
Regular Eggs-Fairly cheap
-Cost-effective source of protein
-Yummy! 🙂
-High in bad cholesterol
-High in fat, including some saturated fat
-Unknown Omega-3 content
Cage-free Eggs-High in protein
-Higher in Omega-3s than regular eggs
-Better for the hens, depending on what type (pasture raised)
-Also yummy!
-Still contain a lot of cholesterol
-Not a very cost-effective source of Omega-3s
-Not all cage-free eggs are equal — nutrition varies
(Overall pros and cons of flax eggs, regular eggs, and cage-free eggs.)

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