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Duck meat vs Chicken meat - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Duck meat
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Chicken meat

Introduction

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.

Classification

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 colour 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).

Appearance

Duck meat is noticeably darker in colour. 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, more dense flavour, 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 medium rare and light pink on the inside.

Varieties

While both chicken and duck meat can be served as fresh meat or as a processed product, chicken is consumed much more often 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.

Nutrition

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 more nutritionally dense, 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.

Calories

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 3 times higher in saturated fats while containing similar amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids when compared to chicken.

At the same time, duck meat is slightly lower in cholesterol.

Carbohydrates

Like most types of meat, duck and chicken contain no notable amount of carbohydrates.

Vitamins

Duck meat is richer in most vitamins compared to chicken meat. Duck provides almost 3 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.

Minerals

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.

Glycemic Index

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.

Acidity

The normal 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 a low calorie and a low fats diet. 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, a 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).

Being so low in carbohydrates, chicken and duck can be included as part of a keto diet.

Unprocessed chicken and duck meat can also be consumed in moderation on a paleo and a Mediterranean diet.

Health Impact

We will now discuss how consumption of chicken and duck meat affects our health, using scientific research.

Chicken meat has been studied much more extensively than duck meat.

Health Benefits

Cardiovascular Health

One study found that 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 for recommending a limit on its intake level (8).

Diabetes

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 and diabetes mellitus during pregnancy, and improve glycemic control (10).

Cancer

Unprocessed poultry intake, including chicken and duck, may lead to a decreased risk of colorectal, oesophageal and lung cancers (11). 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.

Cardiovascular Health

Eating fish or vegetables instead of poultry has been studied to lead to a lower risk of cardiovascular incidence (12).

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 (13).

Diabetes

Contrastingly, a positive association has been found between poultry consumption, including both chicken and duck, and incident type 2 diabetes in women (14).

Cancer

Processed meat consumption can increase the risk of certain types of nasopharyngeal, oesophageal, lung, stomach and pancreatic cancers (15).

Summary

To sum up, 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. Duck meat, at the same time, is higher in iron and copper.

Chicken and duck, both being poultry, have similar impacts on health. However, duck meat is darker in colour, higher in myoglobin and has been a part of fewer studies.

Sources.

  1. https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/PoultryStandard.pdf
  2. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2011/05/25/cooking-meat-check-new-recommended-temperatures
  3. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1755-1315/102/1/012051/pdf
  4. https://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=crpsaj.2011.1.11
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263643023
  6. https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12937-017-0252-7
  7. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322959346
  8. https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/getmedia/d0671d24-16aa-4dff-8555-0c07e61c11ee/Evidence_Check_Review_Meat_and_CVD_FINAL_2019.pdf
  9. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2018/03/23/how-meat-is-cooked-may-affect-risk-of-type-2-diabetes/
  10. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322959346
  11. https://osher.ucsf.edu/patient-care/integrative-medicine-resources/cancer-and-nutrition/faq/animal-protein-cancer-risk
  12. https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/article/42/12/1136/6032616
  13. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2759737
  14. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-012-2718-7
  15. https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/meat-fish-and-dairy/
Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Profession: Yerevan State Medical University
Last updated: May 23, 2021

Infographic

Duck meat vs Chicken meat infographic
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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Contains more Iron +114.3%
Contains more Copper +243.9%
Contains less Sodium -28%
Contains more Calcium +36.4%
Contains more Magnesium +43.8%
Contains more Phosphorus +16.7%
Equal in Potassium - 223
Equal in Zinc - 1.94
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 102% 4% 18% 12% 76% 51% 67% 8%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 48% 5% 20% 17% 22% 53% 78% 11%
Contains more Iron +114.3%
Contains more Copper +243.9%
Contains less Sodium -28%
Contains more Calcium +36.4%
Contains more Magnesium +43.8%
Contains more Phosphorus +16.7%
Equal in Potassium - 223
Equal in Zinc - 1.94

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
Contains more Vitamin A +30.4%
Contains more Vitamin E +159.3%
Contains more Vitamin D +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +176.2%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +60.1%
Contains more Vitamin K +112.5%
Contains more Folate +20%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +75.9%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +122.2%
Equal in Vitamin B5 - 1.03
Equal in Vitamin B12 - 0.3
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 0% 13% 14% 3% 44% 63% 91% 66% 42% 38% 13% 5%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 0% 10% 6% 0% 16% 39% 160% 62% 93% 38% 6% 4%
Contains more Vitamin A +30.4%
Contains more Vitamin E +159.3%
Contains more Vitamin D +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +176.2%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +60.1%
Contains more Vitamin K +112.5%
Contains more Folate +20%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +75.9%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +122.2%
Equal in Vitamin B5 - 1.03
Equal in Vitamin B12 - 0.3

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
32
Duck meat
36
Chicken meat
Mineral Summary Score
42
Duck meat
31
Chicken meat

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
114%
Duck meat
164%
Chicken meat
Carbohydrates
0%
Duck meat
0%
Chicken meat
Fats
131%
Duck meat
63%
Chicken meat

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Duck meat Chicken meat
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Sugar Equal
Lower in glycemic index Equal

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Duck meat Chicken meat
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet Equal
Low glycemic index diet Equal

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Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Duck meat
Duck meat is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 4mg)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Duck meat
Duck meat contains less Sodium (difference - 23mg)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Duck meat
Duck meat is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Chicken meat
Chicken meat is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 5.88g)
Which food is cheaper?
Chicken meat
Chicken meat is cheaper (difference - $1)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Chicken meat
Chicken meat is relatively richer in minerals
Which food contains less Sugar?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Sugar (0 g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (0)

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Duck meat Chicken meat Opinion
Calories 337 239 Duck meat
Protein 18.99 27.3 Chicken meat
Fats 28.35 13.6 Duck meat
Vitamin C 0 0
Carbs 0 0
Cholesterol 84 88 Duck meat
Vitamin D 3 2 Duck meat
Iron 2.7 1.26 Duck meat
Calcium 11 15 Chicken meat
Potassium 204 223 Chicken meat
Magnesium 16 23 Chicken meat
Sugar 0 0
Fiber 0 0
Copper 0.227 0.066 Duck meat
Zinc 1.86 1.94 Chicken meat
Starch
Phosphorus 156 182 Chicken meat
Sodium 59 82 Duck meat
Vitamin A 210 161 Duck meat
Vitamin E 0.7 0.27 Duck meat
Vitamin D 0.1 0 Duck meat
Vitamin B1 0.174 0.063 Duck meat
Vitamin B2 0.269 0.168 Duck meat
Vitamin B3 4.825 8.487 Chicken meat
Vitamin B5 1.098 1.03 Duck meat
Vitamin B6 0.18 0.4 Chicken meat
Vitamin B12 0.3 0.3
Vitamin K 5.1 2.4 Duck meat
Folate 6 5 Duck meat
Trans Fat
Saturated Fat 9.67 3.79 Chicken meat
Monounsaturated Fat 12.9 5.34 Duck meat
Polyunsaturated fat 3.65 2.97 Duck meat
Tryptophan 0.232 0.305 Chicken meat
Threonine 0.773 1.128 Chicken meat
Isoleucine 0.872 1.362 Chicken meat
Leucine 1.465 1.986 Chicken meat
Lysine 1.486 2.223 Chicken meat
Methionine 0.475 0.726 Chicken meat
Phenylalanine 0.752 1.061 Chicken meat
Valine 0.938 1.325 Chicken meat
Histidine 0.462 0.802 Chicken meat
Fructose

References

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.

  1. Duck meat - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172409/nutrients
  2. Chicken meat - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171450/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.