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Are There Health Benefits of Duck?

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on May 28, 2021

Ducks are popular in many cultures for their eggs, feathers, and meat. They have been domesticated for these items for at least 4,000 years. Like chicken and turkey, duck is a type of meat called poultry. 

Asia has the largest demand for duck products and poultry. But duck is also commonly used in Europe, Australia, and North America.

Read on to learn more about the health benefits that come with enjoying duck meat. 

Types and Availability of Duck Poultry

There are many types of domesticated ducks. Some common breeds enjoyed for their meat include the following. 

Mulard ducks. Mulard or mule ducks are a hybrid breed mostly bred for their meat. Mulard ducks have rather lean meat. They are popular with people that are looking for a healthy duck meat option. 

Khaki Campbells. Khaki Campbell ducks are usually bred for their quality eggs. But these ducks are enjoyed for their meat as well. 

Muscovy ducks. Muscovy ducks are closely related to geese. Their meat is celebrated in France and often compared to beef as it is lean and red. 

Indian Runners. These ducks are famous for their egg-laying abilities. Indian Runners are also known to have a good flavored, lean meat. 

Pekin ducks. Pekin duck should not be confused with the dish called Peking duck. Pekin duck is popular poultry for commercial production because the breed grows fast. Pekin ducks were originally bred in China. They are savored for their tender and juicy meat. 

Duck migration seasons. Duck is usually available from May to September in northern regions. Duck can be an important source of nutrients. So people who live in northern regions may choose to freeze the meat so that they can eat it during the winter. 

Eating duck poultry.  Duck meat can be enjoyed cooked or dried. It is commonly thought of as fatty meat. But store-bought duck is often lower in fat than its poultry cousin the chicken. 

Cuts of duck meat. Popular cuts of duck are the breast and legs. Duck poultry is generally known to be moist and rather dark meat. Yet the breast meat is lighter and tastes milder than meat from the thighs and legs.  

Other parts of the duck that you can eat are the gizzard, liver, and heart. 

Duck Meat Nutrition

Protein. Duck poultry is an excellent source of protein. Around 75 grams of cooked meat will provide more than 25% of your necessary daily protein intake. It is important that you eat enough protein every day. It is necessary for keeping your skin, muscles, and blood healthy. 

B vitamins. Duck is a good source of B vitamins. It contains a lot of vitamin B3, also called niacin.

B vitamins help with many of your bodily functions. They aid your immune system, nervous and muscular system, cognitive functions, and hormone production.

Iron. One serving of duck meat will give you half of your needed daily iron intake. Iron is an essential mineral that your body needs to create energy and growth. It is necessary to make hemoglobin. This protein carries oxygen within red blood cells.

Omega fatty acids. Duck poultry is an excellent source of short-chain omega-3 fatty acids and a good source of omega-6 fats.

Studies show that ducks’ systems convert short-chain omega-3s (such as ALA, or alpha-linolenic acids) and convert them into long-chain Omega-3s (such as DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid)‌. Long-chain omega-3s can help to prevent chronic diseases including various types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, mental illnesses, psoriasis, and asthma. 

Selenium. Duck meat is a rich source of selenium. Selenium is an important mineral that can reduce the symptoms of chronic inflammation and can help to build your immune response. 

Safely Handling Duck Poultry

When handling duck meat you must practice the following safety measures to avoid cross-contamination or food poisoning: 

  • Use only clean food storage containers when storing duck meat. 
  • Wash your hands, surfaces, and appliances before and after preparing raw duck.
  • Only eat duck poultry that has been thoroughly cooked at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Taking these precautions reduces the possibility of food poisoning by salmonella bacteria. Salmonella lives in the intestines of animals and humans. When it is ingested it can cause a type of food poisoning that lasts from 4 to 7 days.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Antioxidants & Redox Signaling: “The Role of Selenium in Inflammation and Immunity: From Molecular Mechanisms to Therapeutic Opportunities.”

‌Cleveland Clinic: “Salmonella.”

Experimental Biology and Medicine: “Original Research: Effect of various dietary fats on fatty acid profile in duck liver: Efficient conversion of short-chain to long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.”

Government of Northwest Territories: “Duck.”

Mayo Clinic: "High hemoglobin count.”

Nutrients: “B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review.”

PoultryHub Australia: “Duck.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture: “Duck, domesticated, meat only, cooked, roasted.” 

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