The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Integrating Leeks into Your Diet

Leeks are alliums, the same family of vegetables that garlic, chives, scallions, and onions are classified under. Although they are one of the less popular alliums, leeks are very nutritious vegetables and they make a delicious addition to meals. They are easily recognizable by their white and green color and their thick base that looks like an onion. Both the white stem and the green leaf of leeks are edible. However, the darker green part of their leaves is often discarded because of their bitter taste. 

Leeks may look like ordinary vegetables, but they are top-tier when you consider their nutritional value and health advantages. In this post, we discuss how these powerhouse veggies can boost the health benefits of your plant-based diet.

Health and Nutritional Benefits of Leeks

Leeks contain a healthy dose of kaempferol, a flavonoid known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic effects. They are also packed with beneficial plant compounds such as polyphenols. 

One cup of chopped leeks contain the following nutrients:

  • Carbohydrates: 13 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Calories: 54
  • Sugar: 4 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams

Additionally;y, leeks are a good source of manganese and Vitamin K, nutrients that play key roles in blood clotting, blood calcium level regulation, and bone metabolism. Other vitamins you can get from eating leeks are vitamins A and E, which promote good vision and fortify the immune system. Here are other health benefits you can gain from eating this allium plant food.

Helps Protect the Heart

Leeks contain B vitamin folate, a compound known to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood and help to protect blood vessel linings from damage. When combined with kaempferol, folate can help lower the risk of chronic heart conditions. Also, the antioxidant polyphenols in leeks shield blood vessels from damage caused by oxidative stress. 

Further, the Vitamin C and iron present in leeks help the body absorb more iron and reduce the risk of developing anemia, thereby preventing the occurrence of an enlarged heart or heart failure.

Aids Digestion

Leeks contain a high amount of soluble fiber. They are also a good source of probiotics that works to keep your gut flora healthy. Probiotics include inulin and fructooligosaccharides, which are carbohydrates that the body is unable to break down. When these carbohydrates get to the colon, they act as food for friendly bacteria that reside in the colon. 

According to nutritionists, approximately 7g of probiotics is needed per day to keep the gut bacteria healthy. A bowl of soup that contains leek and artichoke can serve you up to 6 grams of inulin. Eat a couple of bananas, and you are likely to get the needed amount of probiotics you need per day. 

May Helps Reduce the Risk of Cancer

The allicin and kaempferol present in leeks serve as cancer-fighting compounds when consumed. Research shows that both compounds may help fight cancer by preventing the spread of cancer cells, reducing inflammation, and killing cancer cells. Leeks also contain Vitamin C, a natural antioxidant that has proven effective in fighting free radicals and preventing the occurrence of oxidative damage.

Detoxifies Your Body

The liver is often the target of toxins in the body. Allium vegetables such as leeks contain antioxidants that can help in the regeneration of liver cells and improve overall liver health. Also, the d-limonene in leeks helps lower the accumulation of cholesterol and triglycerides in the liver.

Moreover, the leeks contain sulfur compounds that fight toxins and eliminate them from the body. The vegetable also helps regulate the level of liver enzymes which are usually high when the liver is infected or damaged.

Helps to Lose Weight

If you wish to maximize the weight loss benefit of a plant-based diet, consider tossing leeks or other edible alliums into your meals. They contain about 31 calories per serving, which means they are low in calories. Leeks also contain a healthy amount of fiber and water. Eating them will give you a feeling of fullness and make you less likely to consume high-calorie foods that can increase your calorie intake. 

Boosts Vision

Leeks are part of the plant foods you should consider eating often if you want to improve your eye health. These crunchy vegetables contain lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that help protect your eye tissue from oxidative damage that can lead to age-related macular degeneration. Eating a healthy dose of leeks can also lower your risk of developing eye defects such as cataracts and glaucoma. 

In Conclusion

Leeks make a great addition to a plant-based diet. In the kitchen, they can easily stand-in for any of the common alliums such as onions, scallions, and chives. Leeks are grown all year round, which means you can enjoy them at any time of the year. They can be worked into most meals as a garnish or slowly cooked as soups. Leeks can also be infused into salads and eaten raw. Before you cook them, ensure you rinse them thoroughly under running water to get rid of all the dirt that may be trapped between the layers of the leaves.