Chicken meat vs. Duck meat — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
Duck meat is higher in calories, fats, and overall vitamins, while chicken meat contains more protein.
Duck meat is slightly lower in cholesterol and sodium.
Chicken is richer in calcium, magnesium, and selenium. At the same time, duck meat is higher in iron and copper.
Chicken and duck, both being poultry, have similar impacts on health. However, duck meat is darker in color, higher in myoglobin, and has been a part of fewer studies.
Table of contents
- Macronutrients and Calories
- Glycemic Index
- Weight Loss & Diets
- Health Impact
- Health Benefits
- Downsides and Risks
Chicken is one of the most commonly consumed meats in the world, while the same cannot be said about duck meat. In this article, we will look at what sets these two types of meat apart, focusing on nutrition and health impact, to see which meat is the healthier choice.
Both chicken and duck meat are classified as poultry and considered to be white meat due to their low myoglobin content. However, duck meat is significantly darker in color and consequently higher in myoglobin and iron content compared to chicken meat. Due to this, duck is often considered to be culinary red meat.
According to the USDA classification, based on the age and the weight of the animal, chickens can be classified into four groups: Cornish game hen, broiler-fryer, roaster, and capon.
Similarly, the four classes of ducks are broiler or fryer duckling, roaster duckling, and mature or old duck (1).
Duck meat is noticeably darker in color. A whole raw duck also tends to be more elongated and muscular. Duck’s skin and meat often look fattier.
Taste and Use
Due to a higher level of fats, duck meat is said to have a stronger, denser flavor, closer to red meat than chicken.
The USDA recommends that all poultry, including duck and chicken, are cooked at a minimum internal temperature of 165ºF, equal to 74ºC (2).
While chicken and duck can be cooked in similar ways, duck is often cooked as red meat. Like red meats, duck can be served cooked in medium rare and light pink on the inside.
While both chicken and duck meat can be served as fresh meat or as a processed product, chicken is much more often consumed in its processed form.
Based on the cut, the chicken is often divided into three parts: the breast, the wings, and the legs. The breast is the most commonly used part of the chicken, and it is also the whitest. The legs are darker and consist of the drumstick and the thigh. The wing meat falls somewhere in between the leg meat and the breast.
Duck meat varieties depend on the species of the bird. The most commonly consumed duck in the US is the White Pekin. This breed tends to be lower in fats and higher in protein than the other variants. The other, less common breeds include the Mallard, the Muscovy, and the Moulard.
The nutritional values of the meat can differ depending on its variety, cooking method, and serving method.
The values below are presented for roasted broiler chicken with skin and roasted domesticated duck with skin.
Macronutrients and Calories
Duck is nutritionally denser, containing 52% water, while chicken meat consists of 60% water.
The average serving size of both types of meat is equal to one cup of diced or chopped meat, weighing 140g.
Both types of meat are high-calorie foods; however, duck meat is denser in calories than chicken.
A hundred gram serving of duck contains 337 calories. The same serving size of chicken meat has 239 calories.
Protein and Fats
While chicken meat is richer in protein, duck meat is considerably higher in fats.
Per every hundred gram serving, chicken contains 8g more protein compared to duck. The quality found in both kinds of meat is very high, as they contain ample amounts of all essential amino acids.
Duck meat provides 68% more fats than chicken. Duck is also around three times higher in saturated fats while containing similar amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids compared to chicken.
At the same time, duck meat is slightly lower in cholesterol.
Fat Type Comparison
Like most types of meat, duck and chicken contain no notable amount of carbohydrates.
Duck meat is richer in most vitamins compared to chicken meat. Duck provides almost three times more vitamin B1 and over two times more vitamin K. Other vitamins found in higher amounts in duck meat include vitamin B2, vitamin E, vitamin A, and folate.
Duck also contains vitamin D, which is absent in chicken.
At the same time, chicken contains two times more vitamin B6 and over 70% more vitamin B3.
Both types of meat completely lack vitamin C and contain equal amounts of vitamin B5.
Chicken and duck are both high in minerals.
Chicken is richer in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, and choline.
Duck, on the other hand, contains over two times more iron and copper, as well as being lower in sodium.
These two types of meat contain similar amounts of potassium, zinc, and manganese.
As chicken and duck contain almost no carbohydrates, both of their glycemic index values are considered to be 0.
If you are interested in learning how chicken meat affects blood glucose levels, you can go to our “Chicken meat” page to read more.
The average pH value for fresh chicken meat falls in the range of 5.3 to 6.5, making chicken fall into the slightly acidic category (3).
The pH value for duck meat is not far off, falling between 5.4 to 6.3, making duck also slightly acidic (4).
Another way of looking at the acidity of a food is by using the potential renal acid load value. The PRAL value shows how much base or acid the given food produces inside the organism.
The PRAL values for chicken and duck meat are 14.6 and 10.2, respectively - the higher this positive number, the more acid-producing the food.
Weight Loss & Diets
While chicken and duck are both high in calories, duck meat is denser in energy.
Between these two foods, chicken is the better option for low-calorie and low-fat diets. Both chicken and duck fit well into low carb and low glycemic index diets.
Despite the high caloric values, studies have shown that high amounts of duck meat intake did not negatively alter body indices, such as body weight, fat mass, body mass index, body fat, or waist-to-hip ratio (5).
Among children, higher meat consumption, including chicken, has been associated with lower levels of body mass index (6). Poultry meat intake, along with vegetables, has also been correlated with a reduced risk of developing obesity and obesity-related diseases (7).
Chicken and duck can be included as part of a keto diet as they contain very few carbohydrates.
Unprocessed chicken and duck meat can also be consumed in moderation on a paleo and a Mediterranean diet.
We will now discuss how the consumption of chicken and duck meat affects our health using scientific research.
Chicken meat has been studied much more extensively than duck meat.
One study found that the consumption of duck meat may have a positive effect in preventing cardiovascular disorders mediated by high cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein levels in the blood (5).
The National Heart Foundation of Australia concluded that while poultry, including chicken, may not have a positive effect on cardiovascular health, there is not enough evidence to recommend a limit on its intake level (8).
How you cook your meat can decide how it affects your health. Studies have found that cooking meat at high temperatures, such as grilling and barbecuing, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes when compared to cooking at moderate temperatures, such as boiling, steaming, and stir-frying (9)
The substitution of red meat with poultry, such as chicken or duck, has been demonstrated to decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus during pregnancy and improve glycemic control (7).
Unprocessed poultry intake, including chicken and duck, may lead to a decreased risk of colorectal, oesophageal, and lung cancers (10). This beneficial effect may be explained by the lower heme-iron content found in poultry. As we discussed above, chicken contains lower levels of heme iron.
Downsides and Risks
Many studies are inconclusive about how poultry affects cardiovascular health and diabetic condition.
Eating fish or vegetables instead of poultry has been studied to lead to a lower risk of cardiovascular incidence (11).
Another study has also associated poultry and red meat consumption with a small increased risk of cardiovascular incidence. However, while red meat leads to a small increased risk of all-cause mortality, the same cannot be said about poultry (12).
Contrastingly, a positive association has been found between poultry consumption, including both chicken and duck and incident type 2 diabetes in women (13).
Processed meat consumption can increase the risk of certain types of nasopharyngeal, esophageal, lung, stomach, and pancreatic cancers (14).
- Cooking Meat? Check the New Recommended Temperatures
- Animal sourced protein (meat and poultry) and heart health
- How Meat Is Cooked May Affect Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Animal Protein and Cancer Risk
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Cholesterol|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Sugar||Equal|
|Lower in Glycemic Index||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Vitamin A RAE||48µg||63µg|
|Omega-3 - DHA||0.04g||0g|
|Omega-3 - EPA||0.01g||0g|
|Omega-3 - DPA||0.02g||0g|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet||Equal|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet||Equal|
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Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.
- Chicken meat - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171450/nutrients
- Duck meat - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172409/nutrients
All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.