Leeks are a nutritious vegetable in the same family as onions and garlic. They taste onion-like only milder and more delicate compared to onions and garlic with a sweet flavour and a creamier texture when cooked. They are giant green onions that can be used as a substitute for onions in many dishes. They can also be roasted as well as used in salads and soups. Here’s why leeks should be a staple on your plate.
1. Packed with vitamins and minerals
Leeks are packed with a wide range of incredibly beneficial vitamins. They have vitamin K which is necessary for the formation of thrombin, a protein that helps in the clotting of blood which helps the body to heal from wounds. Vitamin K also has a role to play in maintaining bone mineral density. It has vitamin B6 which is crucial for brain development, immune health, and metabolism.
They have vitamin C whose antioxidant properties play a crucial role in the immune system. Vitamin C also aids in tissue repair, iron absorption, and collagen production. Leeks offer about twice as much vitamin C as the same quantity of oranges.
They have folate which is especially important during pregnancy. Folate helps prevent neural tube defects and other pregnancy-related complications. Leeks are a good source of manganese which may help reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms and also promote thyroid health.
2. Cancer risk reduction
Plants of this family including garlic, onions, and leeks have a connection with lowering the risk of certain cancers. Prostrate, stomach, colon, and oesophagus cancer are rarer in people who consume plants of the allium family. Researchers think that the antioxidants in allium vegetables repair damaged DNA.
3. May reduce inflammation and promote heart health
Leeks contain compounds that lower inflammation and protect heart health. They also have compounds that reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and aid in the formation of blood clots all of which benefit heart health. Reducing blood pressure takes the strain off the cardiovascular system reducing the risk of stroke, heart disease, and heart attacks.
4. Healthy Eyes
Leeks contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two substances that protect the eyes. These substances known as carotenoids reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration both of which can severely impair vision and negatively impact the quality of life among older people. Leeks are one of the richest dietary sources of lutein.
5. May aid in digestion and weight loss
Leeks are a natural source of prebiotics which is a type of bacteria that thrives in the gut. Prebiotics contribute to a healthy digestive system and play an important role in the absorption of nutrients which can boost your overall health. Eating Leeks can help maintain balance in the stomach’s bacterial environment, help eliminate toxins and stimulate digestive fluids.
Like most vegetables, they can also aid in weight loss because of their low-calorie count. They also are a good source of water and fibre which may prevent hunger, promote feelings of fullness and help you naturally eat less. They produce soluble fibre which forms a gel in your gut and is particularly effective at reducing hunger and appetite.
6. Strong bones
The vitamin K in them may reduce the risk of osteoporosis with research showing a connection between a higher intake of vitamin K and denser bones. They also contain calcium and magnesium both of which are vital for ensuring bone health.
Check out: Tips for stronger bones and teeth
How to use leeks
It is possible to use the whole leek: the white stem, the light green parts and even the darker leaves. Just wash it thoroughly, rinse and slice the stalk into small round pieces. They are versatile and can be cooked in a variety of ways. Use them in your roast dishes including vegetables, meat, and fish. Use them in your soups and stews in lieu of onions or together for that extra flavour. You can also sauté them as a side dish to your main meal. Let your imagination and sense of adventure guide you.