They’re cheap, nutritious, and an essential part in the diets of billions around the world. Still, there are a lot of myths surrounding the everyday egg. Get ready for a bit of shell shock. I’m about to scramble everything you think you know about eggs.

Cracking through 8 myths about eggs

Myth: Brown chickens lay brown eggs.

Truth: The color of a chicken does determine what color eggs it lays, but it’s not the feathers that give it away — it’s the earlobes. (Yes, Earlobes!) Chickens with red earlobes lay brown eggs, while white eggs usually come from chickens with white earlobes. There are always exceptions, but if you’re wondering what color a hen’s eggs will be, this general rule is a good place to start.

Myth: All eggs need to be refrigerated at all times.

Truth: Whether or not you need to refrigerate your eggs depends on where you live. If you live in the United States — or Japan, Scandinavia, and Australia  — you do need to keep your eggs cold. That’s because egg producers in these countries are required to wash their eggs to protect against salmonella. However, it’s this washing process that strips the egg of its natural protection, making it crucial that they are kept cold to protect against spoilage and pathogens.

Cracking through 8 myths about eggs

Myth: Brown eggs are more nutritious than white eggs.

Truth: We might think of brown foods — like rice, bread, or sugar — as being healthier, but with eggs, that’s not the case. Studies have shown that brown eggs are pretty much the same thing. The color of the shell depends on the breed and the color of the chicken’s earlobes (see above).

Cracking through 8 myths about eggs

Myth: Never ignore dates on an egg carton.

Truth: Stores are required to stamp “sell by” or “expiration” dates on egg cartons. But if you have kept your eggs refrigerated, there is no reason why they can’t still be eaten several weeks or even a few months past these timelines. These dates are a guide for food quality, not necessarily food safety.

10 Items you should never store in the refrigerator. 

Cracking through 8 myths about eggs

Myth: Cage-free farming means happy hens

Truth: If you pay extra for “cage-free” eggs, you might not be getting what you think. Cage-free hens still may never see daylight, and they are exposed to unnatural amounts of light to help stimulate egg laying. Many producers mutilate the hen’s beaks so they can’t harm other birds, and most of the male chicks are still killed when they’re born since they have no commercial value to egg producers. If you want to make sure your eggs are coming from happy chickens in the green fields you imagine, look for the Certified Human label, or buy your eggs from a small, local producer who you can ask questions.

Cracking through 8 myths about eggs

Myth: Every egg is a chick.

Truth: Eggs are just that — eggs. Unless they are fertilized by a male, they stay eggs. The eggs for sale at your supermarket are unfertilized and were never, and can never, become chicks.

Cracking through 8 myths about eggs

Myth: Eating lots of eggs will raise your cholesterol.

Truth: If you’ve been cutting back your egg consumption all of these years, you might want to reconsider. Egg yolks do contain more fat and cholesterol than the white part, but studies over the past several decades have shows that not all fat is bad for you, and also that high-cholesterol foods don’t necessarily translate to heart disease. Additionally, yolks are a great source of protein, riboflavin, selenium along with other vitamins and minerals. Talk to your doctor if you’re still over easy about eating more eggs.

Cracking through 8 myths about eggs

Myth: Fresh eggs are always best.

Truth: Older eggs aren’t unsuitable for cooking, and some recipes even call for them. Try using older eggs the next time you go to hard-boil. The tougher membrane inside the shell and the more developed air pocket make them much easier to peel. If you’re considering using a older egg in a recipe, crack it into a separate bowl first and examine it to see if it’s safe.

Also see, Considering raising your own chickens?

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.