If you are allergic to eggs, go duck. Those with chicken egg allergies may be fine eating duck eggs. This has been true for us. We switched after discovering my daughter’s allergy to chicken eggs. After going duck, I don't care to go back.
The second most common food allergy in children is egg (1). The allergic reaction may be an immediate IgE reaction or delayed reaction. Immediate IgE reactions typically appears within 2 hours of eating the offending food. IgE reactions cause symptoms, like: rash, hives, giant hives, vomiting, diarrhea, hay-fever type symptoms, asthma, and anaphylactic shock. Delayed reactions typically appear within 3 days of eating the offending food.
A study of 164 children with atopic dermatitis (rash) only reported that immediate-type allergic reactions were implicated in 11.6% of these children, whereas delayed-type allergic reactions were relevant in 44.5%. Of this group, 114 children (63.4%) were affected by gastrointestinal disorders, the most common gastrointestinal disorders being: abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal distension, and constipation. The most common food allergens implicated were Soy, Cow’s milk, Peanut, Corn, Carrots, Rye, Wheat, Egg white, Cod, and Chicken, as determined by skin-patch tests (1).
Both yolk and whites can be allergenic, but the whites are the more common culprit. Although, eggs contain over 40 proteins, five have been identified as the most common allergens.
Protein content varies among species of birds. So those allergic to chicken, maybe able to tolerate eggs from a different type of bird. One of the common allergens conalbumin (a protein in egg whites) makes up 12% of a chicken egg white, but only 2% of a duck egg white (4).
A study found, it is possible to have a cross-reactive allergic response to different bird species, but they also found if you are allergic to one you may not be allergic to the other (1).
The surest way to identify an egg allergy is by an allergy test. However, there are different allergy responses requiring different types of tests. Skin prick testing only tests for an IgE allergic response, which is the immediate response that causes hay fever, rashes, asthma type of symptoms, and anaphylaxis. This type of test can’t test for the delayed response.
Delayed responses can be tested through the IgG blood testing. This often requires you to eat the food, then have your blood tested to measure the IgG response.
My daughter has a delayed response, and it was identified through eliminating foods and slowly reintroducing them to find the culprit. My daughter had a few small pink bumps on her cheeks, before she started eating solids. Around 6 months of age I began introducing egg yolk to her, and small bites of banana pancake. The bumps on her face worsened, and spread across her face and down her arm. This didn’t happen immediately but days later. I wasn’t sure what was causing it, so I stopped giving her these breakfast foods. The rash faded some, but persisted.
However, I was still eating eggs during this time, it didn’t take long to realize I too had to stop eating eggs. She was still reacting to the egg through breastmilk. Months later, the pies at thanksgiving were staring at me. I thought I would have a small piece and again her rash returned. The pie contained egg, and it took months for the rash to completely fade away.
I love egg and did not want to remove it from our diet. I ran across information online about duck eggs being less allergenic. I went searching and found pastured organic duck eggs from a local farmer. We eat them daily and she has remained rash free for over a year.
Egg a Super Food
I was very happy to solve our egg dilemma, besides just loving eggs they are a super food. With very high nutrient content when the bird is raised naturally and allowed to free range. Eggs yolks are among the best sources of choline a brain power nutrient, vital to brain development in fetuses and children. They contain K2 an important vitamin aiding calcium and vitamin D. K2 is good for our cardiovascular system, bones, among other things. Eggs are high in cholesterol. Cholesterol is vital for hormone function, brain development, and other vital processes. I highly recommend reading Nourishing Baby. After reading you will be wanting to feed your child plenty of egg, its a great book with plenty of information on feeding babies, plus more.
If you are fearful of cholesterol there’s a lot of good information out there, to settle your worries. Our government recently removed the cholesterol limitations from the 2015 dietary guidelines, because of lack of supporting evidence. Your body needs and makes cholesterol. A recent study found the elderly with higher cholesterol levels, including the LDL “so called bad cholesterol” had the best memory function, compared to those with low cholesterol (9). Dietary cholesterol has little impact on blood cholesterol (10). There's too much to cover here, but to ease mislead worries there’s plenty of information online debunking the cholesterol scare (more here).
Duck Eggs VS Chicken Eggs
Duck eggs provide a powerful nutritional punch. They are alkalizing to the body unlike chicken eggs (3). Gram for gram, duck eggs are higher in omega 3s, vitamin D, vitamin A, Folate, B12, cholesterol, and have a higher mineral content, than chicken (6). It’s said their thicker shells increases their shelf life too (7).
Bake with Duck Eggs
Everything you do with a chicken egg can be done with a duck egg. They taste great, better than a chicken egg in my opinion. Their flavor is rich, this is due to a larger yolk and a higher fat content. They are better for baking. The higher fat content creates a rich flavor, and the albumen protein in their egg whites creates a fluffier texture in baked goods. This is awesome with gluten free. This helps with replacing the structure that gluten provides, when baking gluten free (5).
Pastured Free Range Eggs Best
Duck eggs have a larger yolk to egg white ratio than a chicken egg. Their yolks are higher in fat, containing healthy omega 3s. Of course, nutrient content greatly depends on what the animal eats. I prefer local whenever possible. The best way to know your food, is to know your farmer.
Soy Maybe Culprit
Some people may have an allergic response after eating eggs, it is possible the allergy may actually be to the bird’s diet and not the egg itself. Soy is a common allergen and a common ingredient in most animal feeds. You may want to try pastured eggs from a truly free-range ranch, and ask if they are giving any supplemental grains, and what it contains. In my daughter’s case she is allergic to the chicken egg itself.
I am happy to have found duck eggs. I would choose duck over chicken for flavor alone. My daughter can eat them rash free, their flavor is delightfully rich, works great in gluten free baking, and they’re nutrient dense. Downside they are usually pricier than chicken. It’s on our to-do-list to soon adopt some ducks to our little homestead. If you have trouble locating duck eggs, you can find them online through Azure Standard. This is where I shop when I can't find what I need locally.
*Comparison of egg white proteins (here)
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