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In Pakistan, duck is usually bought home after ‘shikar’ (hunt), or is savoured at several Chinese restaurants in the form of the famed Peking Duck, which is considered to be one of China’s national foods dating to the Imperial Era. The sliced duck meat is usually eaten with pancakes, spring onions and generous servings of Hoisin sauce.

Although many health specialists consider it to be high in cholesterol, duck is relatively healthy to eat, especially if the skin is removed.

Duck is a good source of:

1. Proteins. Essential in the maintenance of a healthy body, they repair damaged muscles and help heal the body. Proteins also ensure that the immune system functions optimally and along with carbohydrates, provide energy. They also make up the enzymes that power many chemical reactions and the haemoglobin that carries oxygen in the blood. Lack of proteins can cause growth failure, loss of muscle mass, decreased immunity, and weakening of the heart and respiratory system.

2. B-vitamins. Boost energy levels and speed up the metabolism; Niacin (B3) works to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. It is also used to lower the risk of heart attack in people with high cholesterol and a history of heart disease.

3. Phosphorus. Essential to bone formation, digestion, excretion, protein formation, hormone balance, energy extraction, cell repair, chemical reactions, and nutrient utilisation.

4. Iron. Ensures proper growth of the human body, metabolism and red blood cell production.

5. Selenium. Regulates the body’s thyroid levels and boosts the immune system. Linoleic acid, an Omega-six essential polyunsaturated fatty acid, forms the lipid component of all cell membranes in our body. Its deficiency can result in symptoms such as hair loss, dry hair and poor wound healing.

6. Duck also contains smaller amounts of folate (which aids foetal development, reduces depression and helps the heart stay healthy) as well as Omega-three and Omega-six fatty acids, which contribute to heart health.

– Dr Samia Babar
The writer is Director, Health Awareness Society.