Eggs are a nutritious and affordable source of protein that humans have been eating for millions of years (
The most commonly consumed type of egg is the chicken egg. Still, many other types of eggs can be eaten too, including duck, quail, turkey, and goose eggs.
Duck eggs are a staple in Asian cuisines, though recently they have been gaining popularity in other places around the world (
You might have seen them at the grocery store, your local market, or on restaurant menus.
This article explains the differences between duck eggs and chicken eggs and compares the nutritional profiles of each. It also reviews some overall benefits and potential downsides of eating eggs.
In general, duck and chicken eggs are quite similar.
Still, there are a few specific features that set the two apart.
The most noticeable difference in physical appearance is the size of the eggs.
A duck egg can be 50–100% larger than an average-sized chicken egg. Thus, eating one duck egg is like eating one and a half or two chicken eggs.
As with chicken eggs, the color of duck eggs varies based on the breed and diet of the duck, the environment it’s raised in, and its genetics (
Many duck eggs have white shells, but they also come in shades of pale gray, green, black, and blue.
The yolks also differ in both size and color. While the yolks of chicken eggs are usually a pale or bright yellow, duck egg yolks are a deeper shade of golden orange. Compared with a chicken yolk, a duck yolk tends to appear more vibrant.
Duck egg yolks are also larger, partly because duck eggs are generally larger than chicken eggs.
The vibrant yolk of a duck egg not only looks bold, but some people think it gives the egg a richer flavor as well. People often describe duck egg yolks as tasting creamier than chicken egg yolks.
Overall, duck eggs and chicken eggs taste similar. However, the flavor of duck eggs may be more intense than that of chicken eggs.
Duck eggs tend to be 50–100% larger than chicken eggs. They also have a deep orange yolk that people often say is much richer and creamier than chicken egg yolk.
Duck eggs and chicken eggs both have impressive nutritional profiles.
The comparison chart below highlights the most notable nutrients in each.
Here are the nutritional profiles for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of cooked duck and chicken eggs (
|Duck egg||Chicken egg|
|Protein||12 grams||10 grams|
|Fat||18.5 grams||11 grams|
|Carbs||1.4 grams||1.6 grams|
|Fiber||0 grams||0 grams|
|Cholesterol||276% of the Daily Value (DV)||92% of the DV|
|Choline||36% of the DV||40% of the DV|
|Copper||6% of the DV||7% of the DV|
|Folate||14% of the DV||9% of the DV|
|Iron||20% of the DV||7% of the DV|
|Pantothenic acid||–||24% of the DV|
|Phosphorus||16% of the DV||13% of the DV|
|Riboflavin||28% of the DV||29% of the DV|
|Selenium||62% of the DV||43% of the DV|
|Thiamine||10% of the DV||3% of the DV|
|Vitamin A||23% of the DV||18% of the DV|
|Vitamin B6||15% of the DV||8% of the DV|
|Vitamin B12||168% of the DV||32% of the DV|
|Vitamin D||8% of the DV||9% of the DV|
|Vitamin E||13% of the DV||8% of the DV|
|Zinc||12% of the DV||9% of the DV|
Overall, eggs are low in carbs and fiber but a rich source of protein and good source of fat. They’re also packed with many vitamins and minerals, particularly choline, riboflavin, selenium, vitamin A, and vitamin B12.
Although both types of eggs are nutritious, duck eggs tend to contain even higher amounts of some nutrients than chicken eggs, including folate, iron, and vitamin B12.
Duck eggs contain as much as 168% or more of the DV for vitamin B12. Your body needs vitamin B12 for certain tasks, such as building DNA and new red blood cells (
Yet, chicken egg whites tend to contain greater amounts of some proteins like ovalbumin, conalbumin, and lysozyme than duck egg whites. Scientists believe these proteins and others in eggs have antimicrobial, antioxidant, and cancer-inhibiting properties (
Some people mistakenly believe that only egg whites contain protein. However, the yolks are actually packed with protein, although slightly less than the whites (
Both the egg whites and yolks of duck and chicken eggs are rich in beneficial bioactive peptides. These peptides are protein particles that may promote optimal health in humans (
Duck eggs and chicken eggs are both packed with protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and bioactive peptides that contribute in numerous ways to optimal human health.
Due to the large amounts of health-promoting nutrients that duck eggs and chicken eggs contain, occasionally consuming either type of egg may have health benefits.
Here are some particular benefits of both types of eggs.
May prevent vitamin D deficiency
Duck eggs and chicken eggs contain similar amounts of vitamin D. Each delivers between 8–9% of the DV in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving.
Furthermore, some animal research from the past few years suggests that egg consumption may prevent vitamin D deficiency (
One 8-week study fed rats with diabetes a whole-egg diet and found a 130% increase in vitamin D levels, compared with rats fed a protein-based diet.
Rats that ate the whole-egg diet also had higher vitamin D levels than rats that were supplemented with vitamin D on the protein-based diet (
Still, research on how duck eggs and chicken eggs affect vitamin D status is limited, and scientists need to do many more high quality studies in humans to investigate this.
A good source of protein
Regularly eating lean sources of protein, such as eggs, may provide important health benefits. High protein diets have been linked to several health benefits, including (
- improved appetite control
- increased feelings of fullness
- decreased calorie intake
- reduced body weight
One small study even found that egg proteins specifically may have benefits for weight loss.
The study observed that rats consuming diets comprising 10–20% protein from chicken eggs experienced 29–30% greater reductions in weight than rats that consumed a diet rich in the dairy protein casein (
However, this study was small, limited, and conducted in animals. Scientists would need to conduct human studies on isolated egg proteins to understand how their effects differ from those of other types of proteins.
Still, eggs are a low calorie protein source that may contribute to an overall healthy diet and even help some people manage their weight.
May improve pregnancy outcomes
Eggs may be an important source of nutrition for pregnant people and their babies.
In recent years, studies have found an association between egg consumption and a number of benefits, including greater production of breast milk. What’s more, the nutrient choline found in eggs may support brain health and development in newborns (
Infants who consume eggs also tend to have higher intakes of beneficial nutrients, including vitamin B12, selenium, and phosphorus (
For pregnant people, the benefits may be less clear. One study found that higher egg consumption was associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. Meanwhile, another study found it was associated with increased risk (
Thus, scientists need to conduct more research to investigate the effects of eggs on pregnant people, their unborn children, and newborns.
Duck eggs and chicken eggs may be important sources of nutrition for young children, pregnant and lactating women, people trying to lose weight, and those at risk of vitamin D deficiency. However, scientists need to do more research on these topics.
Though eggs are certainly a nutritious food, consuming duck or chicken eggs too often could also carry certain risks.
Cooking may decrease protein and other nutrients
Some nutrients increase or decrease when eggs are cooked. It’s common for the nutrient content of foods to be altered by heat and other cooking methods.
For example, the protein content differs between raw eggs and soft or hard-boiled eggs (
Other nutrient levels can change with cooking, too. One study found that cooking chicken eggs may decrease their vitamin A content by as much as 20%.
Other studies suggest that various antioxidants in eggs may be altered by heat and cooking. In some cases, cooking increases the amount of nutrients present in eggs (
That said, eggs still provide plenty of nutrients. You can use the table above to estimate your nutrient intake from cooked duck or chicken eggs.
Risk of salmonella
Salmonella is a bacterium capable of causing a foodborne illness called salmonellosis. Its symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, headaches, and fever.
Usually, salmonellosis is not life threatening. However, it can be deadly in certain high-risk populations, such as children, pregnant people, older adults, and those with compromised immune systems.
Both duck and chicken eggs can occasionally be contaminated with the bacteria (
To avoid developing a foodborne illness from duck or chicken eggs, always rinse the outside of your eggs under running water before cracking them open. Make sure to cook the egg whites and yolks to at least 160°F (71°C) (
May contain heavy metals
Heavy metals are a chemical element classification.
They may occur in some foods as a result of their presence in the soil, water, and air that the food is grown with. The amount in eggs can vary significantly depending on how and where the ducks or chickens were raised.
Animal feed contaminated with heavy metals may also contribute to the amount of heavy metals in the animals’ eggs (
Heavy metals are generally harmless. In fact, some, such as iron, are actually essential nutrients the body needs to function properly.
However, some heavy metals may be toxic in large amounts.
Unfortunately, studies on both duck and chicken eggs have found that some eggs may contain significant amounts of heavy metals, including lead, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, and copper (
Thus, consuming too many duck or chicken eggs high in heavy metals could harm your health over the long term (
Egg health controversy
Eggs have been at the center of a controversy surrounding cholesterol and heart disease for years.
Egg yolks contain a significant amount of fats, including more than 100% of the DV for cholesterol in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving. For this reason, people have suggested that eggs may contribute to an increased risk of heart disease (
However, since these claims about eggs became mainstream, multiple research studies have suggested that eggs may actually help promote health (
Particularly, eating eggs in moderation may help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases like stroke (
Still, other studies have found that eggs may elevate your cholesterol and blood sugar levels, which could, in theory, increase the risk of chronic disease (
As such, the best way to include duck eggs or chicken eggs as part of a healthy diet is to consume them in moderation and use healthier preparation methods, such as poaching, boiling, and baking.
Duck and chicken eggs can occasionally contain foodborne-illness-causing bacteria or higher than normal levels of heavy metals.
Whether duck eggs or chicken eggs are better comes down to personal choice. There’s no right answer for everyone.
A few factors you may want to consider when choosing between duck eggs and chicken eggs are:
- Allergies. Typically, people with allergies to chicken eggs can safely consume duck eggs and vice versa due to differences in the proteins causing the allergy. Check with your healthcare provider.
- Availability. Duck eggs may not be readily available in some areas.
- Personal taste. Some may prefer the taste of one type of egg over the other.
- Price. Duck eggs may be more expensive because they’re larger, harder to find, and considered a delicacy in some places.
Whether you choose duck or chicken eggs is a personal preference. When you’re deciding between the two, you may want to consider allergies, availability, personal taste, and price.
Eggs of all types contain an impressive number of healthy nutrients.
Plus, they’re affordable, versatile, and relatively easy to find.
However, consuming too many may have risks, although scientists need to conduct more research on this.
Thus, consuming duck or chicken eggs in moderation easily fits into a healthy diet.
If you’ve never had them, try duck eggs next time you’re feeling bored with chicken eggs.