The Surprising Health Benefits of Leeks

health benefits of leeks

Have you heard of the health benefits of leeks?

Leek is a vegetable that belongs to the same Allium family as garlic, onion, and shallots. Unlike its fellow members, leeks don’t form bulbs.

While leeks may appear boring and unassuming, they have numerous health benefits that many people out there are unaware of.

In this post we uncover the surprising benefits of leeks, and who knows after reading this you just might make leeks a part of your regular diet.

What are Leeks?

Leeks look like shrubs or flowers; however, they are vegetables belonging to the genus ‘Allium’.

Unlike its cousins – onion and garlic – leeks have stalks. They are resilient, easy to grow and can even withstand harsh weather conditions.

This vegetable is indigenous to the Middle East and the Mediterranean but is now being cultivated in numerous parts of the world.

Leeks are quite hard and crunchy and their only edible part is the stalk above the roots and stem. They are used in different culinary applications and have an onion-like flavor.

Health Benefits of Leeks

the health benefits of leeks
Display of fresh leeks at the farmers market

It is our mission to provide you information about healthy foods that are known to aid in a person’s overall health and well-being, and without a doubt, leeks are one of our favorites.

Here are our top six health benefits of leeks:

Benefits of Leeks for Diabetes

Leeks are a low glycemic index vegetable and low in calories.

They inhibit a-amylase activity that supports several anti-diabetic functions. A-amylase breaks down complex carbohydrates into sugars, which cause spikes in blood sugar levels.

Leeks contain allicin too which helps reduce the likelihood of diabetic neuropathy and metabolic syndrome.

Antioxidants and flavonoids found in leeks combat free radical damage in the body and strengthen the cardiac function of a diabetic individual.

Leeks for Skin

Free radical damage is responsible for several skin problems including dark spots and wrinkles.

Antioxidants found in leeks combat free radical damage, preventing skin problems.

Allicin in leeks has antibacterial properties and can keep germs out of the skin. It’s also anti-fungal and anti-viral. Once the stomach digests allicin, it produces sulfenic acid that neutralizes bacteria.

Leeks for Kidneys

One of the great things about leeks is that this vegetable is a natural diuretic. They help increase the amount of water and sodium expelled from the body as urine.

Natural diuretics – like leeks – are beneficial to people with hypertension (high blood pressure) as they reduce the accumulation of water-soluble salts to preserve kidney function.

Diuretics work by flushing out more sodium in the urine. Sodium takes water away from the blood, thereby reducing blood pressure.

Benefits of Leeks during Pregnancy

Leeks are high in vitamin B9 or folic acid. Folic acid is an essential part of a pregnant woman’s diet.

They are critical for the production of new DNA in the body which is required for the formation of new cells.

Folic acid also promotes adequate birth weight, the healthy formation of the neural tube, and proper development of the brain, spine, heart, and face.

Leeks for the Heart

When homocysteine levels in the blood are high, there is a great risk of cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.

Leeks contain 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, which can reduce the concentration levels of homocysteine.

Kaempferol found in leeks can also improve heart health by reducing NO (nitric oxide) production.

Leeks for Hair

Leeks are a great source of minerals such as folates, vitamin C, iron, and manganese. Iron helps promote the growth of hair follicles while vitamin C promotes the absorption of iron in the body. Iron deficiency may lead to anemia, which is a cause of hair loss.

Leeks Questions and Answers

Q. When cooking with leeks do you use the whole thing?

cooking leaks
China Bowl of Chicken and LeekSoba Noodles in Broth with chopsticks

No, you can’t use the whole thing when cooking with leeks because they come out of the ground so there is dirt trapped between their layers.

You must first trim off their root end and then also cut the dark green tops.

Sometimes you will find some inner green layers in the middle, buried within outer dark green layers. It is worth trimming the dark green leaves to get the lighter green core that can be used in cooking.

Remember that you are only supposed to use the more tender white and light green parts for cooking and eating.

Q. What are Side Effects of Leeks?

Leeks generally have positive effects on health and there isn’t evidence of any side effects. However, those on medications should consult a doctor before consuming leeks as they may interact with certain medicines.

Q. Can You Eat Leeks on a Keto Diet?

Leeks by themselves aren’t low-carb. However, when you use them with high-fat ingredients, the carb content is comparatively low and they’re very keto-friendly. For instance, you can prepare a broccoli and leek soup and have it as part of your keto diet.

Q. Can Leeks Make You Gassy?

Leeks are high in fructans – a fiber made of fructose molecules. We humans don’t have the necessary enzyme require to properly breakdown fructans which is why we aren’t able to fully digest them. Improper digestion may lead to gas.

Final Thoughts

There is no denying the health benefits of leeks, especially for pregnant women and diabetics, who should consider eating leeks as they can prove to be extremely beneficial for them.

They are also good for the skin, hair, kidneys, and heart. All of these aid in our overall health and well-being.

If leeks aren’t part of your daily diet, why not give them a try? They benefits of leeks far outweigh the possible side-effects.

Just remember our bodies don’t have the right enzyme to digest leeks so gas may be an issue for some. This can be resolved by taking an OTC gas reliever.

Again, for those who have any doubts, we recommend you consult with your physician before introducing new foods to your diet.

If you have any more questions about the benefits of leeks please feel free to reach out to us or leave a comment below and we will respond.

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