Duck Eggs: Less Allergenic and More Nutritioushealthy fats
We live on a quiet and peaceful recreational lake that is home to a variety of wildlife including several species of duck.
While our family adores the incomparable quality of eggs produced by backyard, free ranging hens, I have always eyed these ducks as a potential source of eggs too. This especially after visiting Polyface Farm last Fall and observing how Joel Salatin (the sustainable, paradigm busting farmer featured in Michael Pollan’s bestseller The Omnivore’s Dilemma) maintains a flock of ducks for egg laying purposes.
Duck eggs are incredibly nutritious as well as delicious. Pastry chefs in particular love duck eggs as they are higher in both fat and albumen (egg white) which makes for fluffier, richer baked goods..
I have occasionally enjoyed duck eggs over the years, usually a random wild duck egg spied in the yard as a female duck waddles by, not quite able to make her nest before depositing her prize.
In recent weeks, however, one female duck has adopted our home and decided that she is one of our chickens.
I’ve tried shooing her away back to her other duck friends many times, but she kept returning to eat the chicken scraps and organic, no soy feed I put out for our layers to supplement their foraging diet. She even goes into the chicken coop while the chickens are out free ranging to sip their water and rest on the straw.
After awhile, this duck, who is a muscovy and mallard mix, became so comfortable hanging around our backyard that she decided to give us a real Easter surprise this past holiday weekend: a down lined duck nest in our patio bed full of 7 beautiful wild duck eggs!
These duck eggs are now sitting in an Easter basket on our kitchen counter, which I will be cooking up in the coming days in a variety of dishes.
Duck eggs, especially wild ones, are extremely nutritious and quite a bit different from chicken eggs. Below is an overview of the key variations.
Duck Eggs Are Larger than Chicken Eggs
Duck eggs are quite a bit larger than even extra large chicken eggs. In this picture below, my daughter is holding an extra large chicken egg from one of our backyard hens and a wild duck egg from our new duck friend.
Due to the larger size, a single duck egg is obviously going to be higher in protein and other nutrients than a corresponding chicken egg. Even after adjusting the nutrients to a per gram level, duck eggs are still the nutritional winner.
The picture below is a duck egg and a chicken egg cooking side by side in a frying pan. As you can see, the duck egg has a larger yolk and more white, but looks essentially the same as a chicken egg.
One point of note: duck eggs, especially wild ones, have incredibly hard shells and even deeper orange yolks than the free ranging chickens we keep that eat plenty of insects, worms and grubs. Duck eggs crack in half perfectly with no splintering and have the look and feel almost like porcelain.
This hard shell means that the eggs stay fresh longer.
Duck Eggs Are Richer than Chicken Eggs
Gram for gram, duck eggs are more nutritious than chicken eggs assuming that both are from free ranging birds that have access to their natural diet. On a macronutrient level, duck eggs have slightly more protein but over 30% more fat – mostly saturated – than chicken eggs.
Mineral content is also higher across the board: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium.
As might be expected, the higher fat content means a higher proportion of the fat soluble vitamins, notably A and E which are present in significantly higher amounts per serving.
The water soluble B vitamins are much higher too. Vitamin B12 is present at 5 times the level in duck eggs as in chicken eggs.
The nutrient that most often scares folks away from duck eggs is cholesterol. Gram for gram, duck eggs contain more than twice the natural, beneficial, brain nourishing cholesterol as chicken eggs. If cholesterol still worries you, know that processed (oxidized) cholesterol in factory foods is the one to avoid. Natural cholesterol as present in ample amounts in duck eggs is a food to be sought out and consumed liberally as practiced by healthy, degenerative disease free ancestral cultures.
Allergic to Chicken Eggs? You May be Able to Eat Duck Eggs
Those who have an allergy to chicken eggs might also suffer cross-reactivity with other bird eggs such as duck, goose, and quail. However, it is very possible that consumption of duck eggs may not produce any symptoms at all.
The only way to know is to try, but do this only under the advice and care of a holistic practitioner given that egg allergies can sometimes trigger anaphylaxis.
Know also that egg allergies potentially can be caused by what the birds are eating, not the eggs themselves. Simply switching to nonGMO, soy and corn free eggs or seeking out eggs from freely foraging birds may solve the problem entirely.
Duck Eggs are a Delicious Alternative to Chicken Eggs
While duck eggs aren’t going to replace chicken eggs in popularity anytime soon, if you have the opportunity to enjoy them on occasion, know that they are a delicious and extremely nutritious food to incorporate into your kitchen routine.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
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