The leek is a vegetable belonging to the genus Allium, which includes onions, garlic, shallots, scallions, chives, and Chinese onions. People cut the bottom of the leek and eat the bundle of leaf sheaths in their cuisine. Leeks may look like oversized scallions; however, they are entirely different plants. Also, leeks have a milder, sweeter flavor than scallions. When cooked, leeks can be braised, sautéed, baked, and other methods at times when scallions may be slimy. This may be beneficial at times when you are looking for foods with similar health benefits as scallions or other Allium vegetables.
Here are the 7 health benefits of leeks.
1. Leeks may be great for your eyes.
Leeks are an excellent source of vitamin A with one cup containing 29 percent of the daily recommendation according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Vitamin A helps your retinas, the tissues in your eye that detect color and light, function in areas of low-light.
2. Leeks can help fight anemia.
Anemia is a health condition when your blood does not make enough red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is an important protein in red blood cells that binds to oxygen for your body to use. This takes part when iron in hemoglobin binds to the oxygen. Leeks help supply the body with iron to be used in hemoglobin.
3. Leeks are a great source of prebiotics.
Research suggests that leeks contain up to 16 percent of the prebiotic inulin. Prebiotics are food substances to help the proliferation of microorganisms like friendly bacteria and fungi. Prebiotics could have many health benefits like increase mineral absorption and reduce the risk of colorectal disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
4. Leeks may be an insect repellant and insecticide.
Several compounds in leeks help to not only repel but also kill insects that attempt to land on areas to which they have been applied.
5. Leeks may help pregnant women and newborn babies.
Leeks have a good amount of folate. Folate consumption during pregnancy is key to preventing congenital disabilities like neural tube defects.
6. Leeks may contain anti-cancer compounds.
Closely related to garlic and onions, leeks contain some of the same anti-cancer compounds but have a much milder taste. Leeks are high in flavonoids, which support your body’s response to oxidative stress and fight cancer.
7. Leeks could help strengthen your bones.
Leeks contain calcium, magnesium, copper, manganese, and other microelements in their bioavailable form. The calcium along with magnesium is essential for bone health, helping to convert vitamin D into its active form in the body and thus strengthen the bones.