Why Duck Eggs Are Even More Nutritious Than Chicken Eggs

Around the world, eggs are one of the most commonly consumed foods. Whether they're eaten as breakfast items, soufflés or salads, eggs are an integral part of many dishes. While most eggs come from chickens, duck eggs are becoming an increasingly popular choice. These eggs are filled with nutrients and are particularly rich in vitamin B12 and selenium.

Duck eggs have more yolk compared to chicken eggs, which can be helpful in cooking desserts and pastries. (Image: TinasDreamworld/iStock/GettyImages)

Duck Egg Nutrition Facts

Duck eggs are rich in various nutrients and low in calories. The calories in each duck egg come to just 6 percent of your daily value (DV) of calories: a total of 130 calories per 70-gram egg.

Duck eggs are considered to be a good source of protein for vegetarians, with each egg giving you 18 percent of the DV for protein. In each duck egg (70 grams), you can also find a variety of vitamins:

  • Vitamin A: 9 percent of the DV
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 7 percent of the DV
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 17 percent of the DV
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 13 percent of the DV
  • Vitamin B9 (folate): 14 percent of the DV
  • Vitamin B12: 63 percent of the DV
  • Vitamin E: 5 percent of the DV
  • Iron: 15 percent of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 15 percent of the DV
  • Zinc: 7 percent of the DV
  • Selenium: 36 percent of the DV
  • Choline (33 percent of the DV)

Duck eggs are also rich in omega fatty acids and have a large amount of cholesterol — more than twice as much as a chicken egg. Since they're low in carbohydrates and high in fat, they're a very healthy choice for people consuming low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diets.

Duck Egg Nutritional Benefits

The benefits of duck eggs primarily come from their nutrient-rich content. They're especially high in vitamin B12, selenium and choline. Choline is an essential nutrient that helps your cells communicate. It's particularly useful in helping your body create neurotransmitters and facilitates nerve communication throughout your body.

Vitamin B12 is required for the synthesis of DNA and the health of your red blood cells. It's also important for your nervous system. Low levels of vitamin B12 can cause issues with balance and memory, as well as fatigue. Duck eggs are an excellent source of B12, with a single egg providing just over 60 percent of the amount you need in a day. This is almost five times the amount that a chicken egg would provide (even when taking size into account).

Each duck egg contains more than one-third of your DV for selenium, which is also required for DNA synthesis and repair. Selenium helps regulate metabolic hormones as well and plays a role in fertility and helping to ensure healthy pregnancies.

Other Duck Egg Benefits

Interestingly, the benefits of duck eggs go beyond their nutrition. According to a 2015 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, peptides in the whites of duck eggs can promote and enhance the body's ability to absorb the essential mineral calcium in your digestive system. This is important since calcium helps your body's muscles function properly and maintains the health of your bones and teeth.

Duck eggs are also rich in antioxidants. According to a 2014 study in the Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications Journal, the egg whites of duck eggs contain different antioxidants that can potentially help prevent various diseases, including heart disease and neurodegenerative conditions.

Duck vs. Chicken Eggs

Although chicken eggs are easier to acquire, duck eggs could generally be considered more nutritious. Of course, this is due, in part, to the fact that the average duck egg is a lot larger than a chicken egg. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, chicken eggs range in size from "peewee" eggs at just over 1.25 ounces (about 35 grams) to "jumbo" eggs. Jumbo eggs are roughly the same size as duck eggs at 2.5 ounces (71 grams).

However, taking size into account, duck eggs have many of the same vitamins and minerals as chicken eggs but in slightly higher amounts. There are some exceptions to this, though: For example, there is twice the amount of iron in duck vs. chicken eggs. Duck eggs also have more omega-3 fatty acids, while chicken eggs have more omega-6 fatty acids.

Cholesterol in Duck Eggs

Before 2015, cholesterol in your food was limited to a maximum of 300 milligrams per day. However, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans no longer mentions such a limitation.

Dietary cholesterol isn't the same as the "bad" cholesterol in your body that negatively impacts your health. This means that duck eggs, which have 619 milligrams of cholesterol per egg (twice the previously recommended amount) are a healthy food choice.

People still avoid cholesterol-rich foods despite the changes to the Dietary Guidelines. However, a 2018 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people can safely consume up to 12 chicken eggs a week.

Considering that large chicken eggs (which weigh 50 grams each) are most often used in cooking, and 12 eggs equal 600 grams per week), this means that you could have more than one duck egg each day without any issues. However, if you prefer to reduce your dietary cholesterol consumption, try consuming just the egg white because it has little cholesterol and is still rich in antioxidants.

Using Duck Eggs In Food

Duck eggs are popular throughout Asia, particularly in China, and are considered a delicacy because of their rich flavor. Dishes using duck eggs in Asian cuisine are unlike the standard poached or fried eggs used in the United States. Instead, you may find pickled duck eggs soaked in brine or boiled and packed in salted charcoal. Of course, you don't need to cook such dishes if you want to use duck eggs.

You'll undoubtedly know how to cook a chicken egg, whether it's scrambled, fried, poached or boiled. You'll be pleased to know that anything you can do with a chicken egg, you can do with a duck egg. Whether you're trying to make mayonnaise, glaze pastry or cook breakfast, duck eggs can be easily integrated into your diet.

Duck eggs are popular among bakers and pastry chefs as they have a larger ratio of egg yolk to egg whites. The larger amount of yolk makes baked goods richer and gives cakes a fluffier consistency. If you like making desserts or pastries, you might find that you even prefer duck eggs to chicken eggs.

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