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Is Duck Healthy? Benefits, Uses, Nutrition
Nutrition

Is Duck Healthy? Benefits, Uses, Nutrition

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 August 24
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7 min

Duck has a high-fat content, but is it considered healthy meat to consume? In this article, we take a look at the nutritional value of duck meat, the benefits of eating it, and how it can be added to your diet. Take a look now to learn more.

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Duck meat is a popular choice for those looking to increase their fat intake. 

There are many benefits of eating duck meat along with ways to cook it, including roasted duck breast, Peking duck, and skinless duck breast. It is much more nutrient-dense than previously thought, making it great for healthy meals.

Nutrients like iron, selenium, and protein are all present in duck meat. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that can improve your overall health long-term.

In this article, you’ll discover the health benefits of duck meat, how healthy duck is, the nutritional values, and a healthy recipe for you to try at home. Let’s dig in to learn more. 

Is Duck Healthy?

Yes, duck can be healthy when consumed in moderate amounts. Duck meat is often noted for its high-fat content, including saturated and unsaturated fat. However, it is also a fantastic source of selenium, vitamin D, and omega-3s.

Aside from its fat content, duck meat also has lots of protein. Getting enough protein promotes satiety, increases muscle mass, supports muscle repair, boosts your metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and helps you stay in better shape as you age.

For anyone watching their fat intake, it is important to check portion sizes before eating duck fat and meat. Even though it’s good for the ketogenic diet, it still contains lots of calories that may lead to weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease.

Remember that certain cooking methods may change the number of saturated fats and vitamins in duck meat. If you want to retain the nutrients for a balanced diet, render the fat before preparation and then roast the duck to get that crispy outer layer.

Duck Nutrition Facts

Duck meat has some pretty incredible nutritional facts, including:

  • Per serving, duck meat actually has the highest amount of iron, making it the perfect choice for those with an iron deficiency.
  • When eaten skinless, duck meat is considered just as lean as chicken meat, turkey breast, and types of pork fat. 
  • Duck offers about 23% of your recommended daily allowance of protein per 100g.
  • Many ways of cooking duck actually render duck fat obsolete, creating concerns about the high-fat content of duck meat.
  • Duck eggs are also a great source of B vitamins, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Nutrition table (per 100g)

The nutritional value of duck meat per 100g is as follows:

Calories/Nutrient (per 100g)Amount 
Calories (kcal)404
Sodium (mg)63 
Net Carbs (g)
Fiber (g)0
Sugar (g)0
Fats (Total)39.3
Protein (g)11.5
Cholesterol (mg)76

High in calories

Duck meat is relatively high in calories, coming in at 404kcal per 100g serving.

This food does not contain any carbohydrates or sugars, meaning the calorie content comes from saturated fat. Those looking to lose weight shouldn’t eat lots of duck meat in their diet, especially if they wish to avoid high-calorie animal fats. 

Unlike beef meat, duck is not marbled meat. This means that once visible fat is rendered off, the fat content of the duck drops significantly. You’ll still get plenty of the beneficial nutrients, like protein, that promotes weight loss.

To lower the calories in duck, you could opt for skinless duck breasts, over fattier cuts. 

Your daily caloric intake is important, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. To lose stubborn fat, you need to eat at a caloric deficit, meaning you consume fewer calories than you burn throughout the day. 

You can also aim to burn more calories each day through exercise. This could be long-distance running, walking 5 miles daily.

High in vitamins and minerals

Duck meat is richer in nutrients than many other animal fats, including chicken meat. It is a great source of essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. This makes it great to add to a healthy and balanced diet.

Many of the nutrients in duck are important for the body, supporting functions like immune response, cellular repair, nerve signals, and even the oxygenation of the blood. A strong immune system can stop you from getting infections and viruses. 

Iron is an essential mineral in the body that supports red blood cells. Men and women over 50 need around 8.7mg of iron per day, while younger women need 14.8mg. There is 2.4mg of iron per 100g of duck meat, making duck an excellent source of iron.

Duck meat also contains B vitamins, which are crucial in carb metabolization. You’ll also get a good dose of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids from the duck. 

There are ways to increase your vitamin and mineral intake, including drinking juices, like orange juice, eating more blueberries, and taking supplements. Chicken meat also has magnesium, which is known to boost weight loss by strengthening metabolism.

Low in carbohydrates

Raw duck meat actually contains no carbohydrates or sugars. This makes it an excellent choice for anyone looking to reduce their blood sugar levels, watch their carbohydrate intake, or follow a low-carb diet when losing weight. 

The lack of carbs also means that it will not cause a blood sugar spike in those who have type 1 or 2 diabetes. Consuming fewer carbohydrates improves high cholesterol levels, which prevents the build-up of plaque in your artery walls. 

However, you should consult your doctor about the best ways of eating foods with saturated fat, as a diabetes diet requires you to limit your fat intake too.

You can reduce fat by removing the duck skin. Once this skin is removed, the duck’s fatty content is akin to lean meat, like both chicken meat and turkey. In fact, with its nutritional value, duck may actually present a healthier alternative to these meats.

High in fats

It is important to be aware of the high saturated fat in duck fat and meat. Though you can consume saturated fat in limited amounts as part of a healthier diet, it is better for your health if you consume more unsaturated fats in other meats like chicken. 

Duck meat offers a healthy amount of omega-3 acids. These fat-based acids are thought to lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, and reduce heart disease risk. You can also get omega-3s from other poultry like chicken meat and vegetable oils.

Contrary to older research, fat isn’t all bad. In fact, our body needs a good source of fat to function properly. Both duck meat and duck fat contain lots of saturated fat, but they also contain both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

These types of fats have heart-healthy benefits. It is no longer thought that eating some fat in healthy amounts is bad for your long-term health. Consuming these fat-based acids in nutritious foods can decrease inflammation and improve blood cholesterol. 

High in cholesterol

Duck meat has around 76mg of cholesterol per 100g. This is quite a high cholesterol value as it is recommended that people limit their daily cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams. High levels of cholesterol are known to increase your heart disease risk in the long term. 

Instead of eating duck fat, you can have chicken meat or any form of white meat on your diet. This might be turkey breast, salmon, herring, pork tenderloin, and sirloin steak. Just make sure to check the nutrition facts before eating meat-based foods.

If you have trouble monitoring your cholesterol levels or planning your meals, we would recommend trying the Klinio app.

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Healthy Duck Recipe 

Below, we’ve provided a healthy duck recipe you can try out now:

Ingredients:

  • 2 duck breasts (250g each)
  • 4 large apricots
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 2 little gem lettuces
  • 50g bag of rocket

For the dressing:

  • 1–2 red chilis to your taste
  • 1 tbsp light muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 1 shallot

How to prepare?

  1. Score the skin of the duck breasts in lines that are close together and then sprinkle with seasoning.
  2. Put in a frying pan, skin side down, and gently increase the heat. Fry for 15min (using avocado oil, not olive oil) and drain off the duck fat as you go. Cook for 5–10min on the other side, depending on your preferences.
  3. Remove from the pan once cooked and place on a tray lined with kitchen paper to rest.
  4. To prepare the salad, stone the apricots, cutting them into thick slices. Cut the cucumber into diagonal slices and then chop and separate the lettuce into four separate bowls. Add rocket and the rest of the salad to each of the four bowls.
  5. To prepare the dressing, halve the chilis and remove the seeds. Mix all other dressing ingredients into a bowl.
  6. Slice the cooled duck into thin slices and separate across the four bowls. Then drizzle with the dressing and serve.

Note: This recipe serves four. For an individual portion, quarter all of the ingredients.

Nutrition information for the recipe

The nutritional information for this recipe is as follows:

Nutrient (per serving)Amount
Calories (kcal)323
Total fat (g)29
Carbohydrates (g)11
Sugars (g)11
Fiber (g)2
Protein (g)21
Salt (g)0.91

This recipe has a high-fat value, but much of the fat is unsaturated, which could promote heart health. It is also very high in protein, which makes it a good lunchtime meal. It should keep you fuller for longer, allowing you to avoid snacking between meal times.

A Word From Our Nutritionist

Duck meat offers many health benefits and is a good choice for those looking to increase their protein intake. It offers lots of protein in just one serving, along with many micronutrients that are essential for maintaining long-term health.

Though it is known for its saturated fat, when the skin is removed, duck meat is as lean as chicken meat and could offer more minerals and vitamins. Duck meat also has a great omega-3 fatty acid profile and contains lots of iron as well as B vitamins.

When it comes to cooking duck, for the leanest meat, it is best to remove the skin. Even though duck fat makes food taste great, it should be kept to a minimum in a healthy diet. After all, the body needs healthy food to reduce your weight safely.

The health benefits of eating duck include high levels of selenium, which can reduce the risk of certain cancers. Selenium is very important for lowering inflammatory markers, preventing the negative effect of aging on the brain, and improving thyroid functions.

Duck fat and meat could also be good for people on an intermittent fasting plan. This dieting style involves fasting for long periods. So, eating duck with lots of protein before a fast could help reduce hunger pangs during periods without food.

One thing to note is that duck species can alter the nutrients. For example, duck liver (foie gras) has more vitamins like A and B12. It still contains similar amounts of saturated fats, but it might be good for those who have a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Just make sure you cook the meat after rendering the duck fat. Using products like olive oil might increase your calorie and saturated fat intake. This is because olive oil is similar to duck skin in the fact that they both can lead to future weight gain.

If you are someone who enjoys crispy duck fat, only eat it as a snack. You could have this once a week to treat yourself after good speed walking or long 10-mile bike sessions. Be aware that duck fat can ruin any weight loss progress.

Conclusion

Duck meat and duck fat are very high in saturated and unsaturated fats but can be part of a healthy diet if eaten in moderation. The meat also has a high level of protein and other nutrients, making it great for losing weight and building muscle.

People can still enjoy chicken meat, Cornish game hen, or beef fat, depending on their fitness goals. Just stay cautious of meats that exceed your daily calories. Of course, a whole duck will have more duck fat, so eat it in very small portions every other day.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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