Why are Egg Yolks Different Colors?

Why are Egg Yolks Different Colors?

You’ve seen the range of eggshell colours from brown to white, and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that egg yolks come in different shades, too.

From pale yellow yolks to rich orange ones, there’s a reason these yolks vary in colour.

No, it doesn’t have anything to do with the chicken who laid the egg’s breed – although that does affect the colour of the eggshell. The egg yolk colour is solely determined by the hen’s diet. Hens that are given feed full of yellow-orange pigments will lay eggs with darker yolks. It’s as simple as that!


Artificial colouring is prohibited in chicken feed, though some farmers will add marigold petals to give yolks an orangey color boost. Reddish yolks are by adding capsicum (i.e. red bell peppers) to chicken feed; throwing in a dash of paprika can have the same effect.

So you know they come in different colours, but what does that mean in terms of health?

It may be a surprise, but a darker egg yolk isn’t richer in nutrients than a pale one. In fact, a pale yellow yolk and a deep orange-gold yolk will have the same amount of protein and fat, though a darker yolk may mean more vitamins and less cholesterol.

Related: Go Ahead and Eat Eggs – They Won’t Take Your Breath Away

Another difference that makes a difference to some (including this author) is the darker the yolk, the tastier the egg. If you enjoy eggs on their own or as the driver to your breakfast, look to dark yolk eggs for a bolder egg flavour.

Regardless of what you choose, eggs will always be a great way to get extra protein in your diet.

Photo Credit: MasAnyanka/Shutterstock.com; Onanong Thongnoum/Shutterstock.com

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