Are There Health Benefits of Duck?

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on August 02, 2023
5 min read

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.

Duck vs. goose

Both belong to the family of waterfowl known as Anatidae. Ducks and geese differ mainly in their size and weight. Geese are much larger than ducks. They have elegant long necks compared to a duck's neck. On average, ducks weigh 2 to 5 pounds, while geese weigh twice as much.

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 looking for a healthy duck meat option.

Khaki Campbells. Theseducks are usually bred for their quality eggs but 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 for their flavorful and 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. Ducks 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. While it's often considered fatty, store-bought duck is usually lower in fat than its poultry cousin, 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 fat is richer in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats than butter and many other animal products. And it may deliver the following noteworthy health benefits.

Reduced cholesterol

The monounsaturated fat in duck meat may help maintain desirable levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. It can also play a role in reducing levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Lower blood glucose levels

A growing body of research suggests that foods high in polyunsaturated fat, like duck fat, may help reduce blood glucose levels. This is even more likely if you replace your calories from carbohydrates with calories from polyunsaturated fats.

Increased energy levels

Duck meat contains high levels of essential amino acids, which are organic compounds that help your body function. Your body uses amino acids to produce energy.

Duck fat can be a great source of linoleic acid, but it’s also high in both calories and saturated fats. If you consume too much, it can contribute to a variety of health concerns, including:

Increased total cholesterol

Though duck fat might not be as high in saturated fats as some animal products, it contains more than options like olive oil. A diet high in saturated fat can lead to significant increases in your total cholesterol, which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Therefore, duck fat can be enjoyed in moderation but should not entirely replace olive oil or other healthy sources of fat.

Weight gain

Before you decide to use duck fat for cooking, keep in mind its high calorie count. One tablespoon of duck fat, which makes up a single serving, contains 113 calories. However, many duck fat recipes use much more than this amount and, as a result, can be surprisingly high in calories.

If you’re trying to lose weight for health reasons, swapping out high-calorie foods for lower-calorie options is a great approach. Limiting recipes that include duck fat in the ingredients may help.

Reduced quality

A recent study found that rendered duck fat is more prone to lipid oxidation during storage than other oils and fats. Lipid oxidation causes foods to deteriorate when they’re not being used.

Protein. Duck poultry is an excellent source of protein. Around 75 grams of cooked duck meat has 17.6 grams protein, which is about 35% of the daily value for protein (50 grams). 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 duck breast has 3.74 grams of iron, which is about 14% of the daily value for iron (18 grams). Iron 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) into long-chain omega-3s (such as DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid)‌. Long-chain omega-3s can help 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 build your immune response.

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 F.

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.