With their unique combination of flavonoids and sulfur-containing nutrients, the allium vegetables belong in your diet on a regular basis. There’s research evidence for including at least one serving of an allium vegetable in your meal plan every day. If you’re choosing leeks, make your individual portion 1/2 cup or greater, and try to include at least one cup of chopped leeks in your recipes.
Many people are unfamiliar with how to cook leeks or how to include them into a Healthiest Way of Eating. We recommend cutting them very thinly and preparing them by using our Healthy Sauté method of cooking. Like their allium cousins, onions and garlic, let leeks sit for at least 5 minutes after cutting and before cooking to enhance their health-promoting qualities. See the Healthiest Way of Cooking Leeks in the How to Enjoy section below.
A member of the allium family, along with garlic and shallots, leeks are similar to onions in appearance but do not develop a bulb. Leeks possess a flavor comparable to that of onions, but typically much milder. You can add leeks to soups, casseroles and salads or eat them raw. Leeks boast plenty of nutritional benefits that make them an ideal addition to your next meal.
Leeks grow best in a moderate climate, but unlike many fruits and vegetables, they can survive–and even thrive–in temperatures that are below freezing. A hardy vegetable, you can grow leeks from seed or transplant them from a pot to the garden, or vice versa, without the vegetable suffering any ill effects, making leeks an ideal vegetable crop for the amateur gardener.
High in Vitamin C
Citrus fruits are known for their high vitamin C content, but many people don’t realize that some leafy vegetables, such as leeks, are also rich in vitamin C. Washington State University notes that a 3.5 ounce serving of leeks contains 30 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. Getting enough vitamin C through the foods you eat is imperative, since your body can neither produce nor store the vitamin.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and, as such, helps protect the body from pollutants and toxins. Vitamin C is also instrumental in the body’s healing process and contributes to the maintenance of skin, bones, nails and teeth.
Protects Against Heart Disease
The leaves and bulbs of leeks contain folate, a B vitamin. Folate is instrumental in reducing the body’s homocysteine levels. According to Oregon State University researchers Melinda Manore and Lanae Joubert, high homocysteine levels place an individual at greater risk of developing coronary heart disease. The more folate you eat, the less homocysteine your body will produce. Including folate-rich leeks in your diet can help protect you from developing heart disease in the future.
High in Potassium
The daily recommended potassium level for adults is 2,000 milligrams. Fortunately, leeks boast a significant amount of this crucial electrolyte, which helps stabilize your body’s fluids. Although more studies are needed, the University of Maryland notes that a link may exist between potassium and bone health. Adequate potassium levels also help reduce your risk of suffering a stroke. Potassium supplements don’t carry the same beneficial effect as meeting your daily potassium needs through the foods you eat. Thus, you’ll reap greater health benefits by including potassium-rich foods, such as leeks, in your diet than by taking a dietary supplement.