Health Benefits of Leeks
This delicately sweet and stalky vegetable is absolutely laden with vitamins, nutrients and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin C, Vitamin K, anti-oxidants, calcium, copper, flavonoids, folate, high fibre, iron, manganese, molybdenum, niacin, potassium, sulfides and thiamin.
Leeks are still a somewhat overlooked member of the royal family of allium vegetables, which include their more popular cousins, garlic and onions. Leeks have since been invited to the ball, or at least to the kitchen of many health-conscious individuals in the know who have come to discover and revere their subtle, pleasing flavor and rightful wealth of health benefits including but not limited to.
Anti-cancer properties Vitamin C helps combat cell-inflaming free radicals that can cause cancer. The sulfides in leeks have been shown to slow down the growth of malignant tumors. The leek’s plentitude of fibre keeps the bowels regular and the colon clean and less likely to develop colon cancer.
Anti-inflammatory properties. Leeks have been found to alleviate the inflammation often associated with arthritis and diabetes.
Digestive health Leeks are a great source of fibre and can promote healthy digestion and ease constipation with their laxative properties. Leeks also contain prebiotic carbohydrates that promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the lower intestine.
Edema Otherwise known as fluid retention, edema often occurs with pregnancy, exposure to excessive heat and as a result of kidney or liver disease. Leeks are natural diuretics and can alleviate uncomfortable swelling by ridding the body of excess fluid.
Heart health Leeks contain several different anti-oxidant sulfinites that convert to allicin in the body. Allicin has been shown to decrease the potential for heart disease as it lowers blood pressure, reduces LDL, or bad cholesterol, raises HDL, or good cholesterol, and prevents blood clots. Kaempferol is an important flavonoid, which helps to protect the linings of our blood vessels from damage. Iron is essential to the production of healthy hemoglobin. Folate is key to keeping homocysteine from overproducing and causing heart disease.
Immune system health Vitamin C, of course, is the ultimate immune system booster and can successfully fend off a plethora of infections and viruses ranging from the common cold to influenza to HIV. Vitamin A is also no slouch when it comes to fighting infections, and does so by strengthening the mucus linings throughout the body and by activating our white blood cells. Allicin is an anti-bacterial sulfur composite that has displayed effectiveness against strains of coli and staphylococcus.
Pregnancy Insuring that expectant mother’s have enough folate in their diets during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects in unborn babies.
Anti-oxidant properties Leeks are laden with well-known anti-oxidants vitamins A and C, as well as several other lesser known ones such as carotenes. These anti-oxidants war against cell-damaging free radicals and promote more taut, radiant skin, strong, shiny hair and buff, healthy nails.
Leeks are extremely low in calories with only 54 in a one-cup serving and all but zero fat. They are also high in fibre (1.6 grams in that same one-cup serving) and this fibre will keep your bowels moving on a more regular basis, flush out excess waste and toxins and result in a steadier, healthier weight loss.
Leeks can be eaten raw, sauteed, steamed, baked, boiled and even microwaved. They are at their peak flavor during the spring months. Choose organic leeks, as they tend to be richer in flavor and higher in nutrient content. Do remove the top thick green leaves of the stalks and give them a very good swirl in a large pot of water to rid them of any dirt or grime before usage.
Pan-stewed leeks make for a one-dish vegetarian spring wonder of a meal in and of itself, but if you prefer, they are the perfect side accompaniment to your favorite protein, marrying particularly well with flaky white fish very simply prepared.
You can smash those luscious melted down leeks right into a steaming pot of russet potatoes to add some extra fibre and delectable sweetness to your smashes.
Braised baby leeks in white wine with a splash of truffle oil is my personal favourite.
Young leeks can be cut directly into a gourmet health salad, especially one composed of delicate mixed greens, walnuts, dried raisins, persian fetta and a light and lovely lemon vinaigrette.
Leeks make for a subtle and savoury topping alternative to onions when making a more refined homemade pizza.
Treat your loved ones to a leek and mushroom tart with oilve oil & wholewheat pastry or a leek, ham and Gruyere frittata for a Sunday brunch that will not be soon forgotten.
Or, if you really want to “wow” your guests at your next fancy dinner party, whip up a white ceramic serving vessel of vichyssoise, or chilled cream of leek and potato soup, finish with truffle oil and Greek style yogurt.
Interesting facts about leeks: The leek is actually the national emblem of Wales.