As a member of the onion
family, leeks have many
similar benefits, including an
ability to reduce “bad” blood
cholesterol and protect
against heart disease.
Leeks have a distinct, slightly sweet, onion flavor but are milder than most onions. The long thick stems have a lower white area and dark green tops, which are edible but usually removed because they can be tough and strong-tasting. Leeks have been shown to reduce total “bad” blood cholesterol while raising “good” cholesterol, and so can help to prevent heart and arterial disease. Regular consumption is also linked with a reduction in the risk of prostate, ovarian, and colon cancer. It is the allylic sulfides in the plants that appear to confer the benefits. They are also rich in vitamin C, fiber, vitamin E, folate, and several important minerals.
- Lower total “bad” blood cholesterol and raise “good” cholesterol.
- Anticancer action.
- Mildly diuretic to help prevent fluid retention.
- High in carotenes, including lutein and zeaxanthin, for eye health.
Wash leeks thoroughly before using—they may contain soil between the tight leaves. The more of the green section of the leek that you use, the more of the beneficial nutrients you will retain. Steam, bake, or stir-fry leeks, rather than boil, to retain their vitamins. The darker green parts take a little longer to cook than the white part so, if chopped, add the green parts to the pan first.
DID YOU KNOW?
In Ancient Greece, leeks were prized for their beneficial effects on the throat. The leek is now the national emblem of Wales, UK.