Leeks are a member of the allium family, related to onions, chives, shallots and garlic. They are one of the world's oldest known vegetables, and have been cultivated and cooked for more than 3,000 years. One cup of leeks is low in sodium and has almost no saturated fat or cholesterol. They are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, iron, magnesium and folate, as well as vitamins A, C, and K.
Health Benefits of Leeks
Leeks contain many antioxidants, giving them anti-inflammatory properties.
Leeks contain kaempferol, a natural flavonol that's also found in broccoli, kale, and cabbage. Research has linked it not only to a lower risk of cancer but also a lower risk of numerous chronic diseases.
Leeks are abundant in prebiotic carbs, which feed the good bacteria in the gut, and help produce digestive enzymes.
Leeks also contain high amounts of polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that play a crucial part in protecting both blood vessels and blood cells from oxidative damage.
Folate is present in leeks in one of its bioactive forms (5-methyltetrahydrofolate, or 5MTHF). Folate is a key B complex vitamin for supporting our cardiovascular system, because it helps keep our levels of homocysteine in proper balance. Elevated homocysteine can lead to blood clots.
Leeks have liver-protecting properties, and actually reduce the level of liver enzymes.
Leeks reduce fatty liver (liver triglyceride accumulation) caused by high-fat diets.
Leeks improve lipid profile by decreasing total cholesterol and triglyceride levels while raising good cholesterol levels.
Leeks improve high blood pressure by increasing production of nitric oxide, a naturally occurring gas that helps dilate and relax blood vessels.
Leeks are also natural diuretics, helping to flush the kidneys and reduce sodium and excess fluid in the body. This in turn lowers blood pressure.
Leeks inhibit a-amylase activity which supports an array of anti-diabetic functions. A-amylase is what breaks down complex carbs into sugars, which causes blood sugar spikes and crashes. Inhibition of this enzyme slows the speed by which glucose enters blood circulation.
- 4 medium leeks, dark green stems removed
- 1/2 large white onion, chopped
- 1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
- 1 tablespoon butter (can skip this, but need some fat for absorption of vitamin K)
- 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable broth if vegetarian)
- 1/2 cup milk (can substitute or skip this if desired)
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Cut leeks horizontally and wash well. Coarsely chop.
2. In medium soup pot, melt butter on low heat.
3. Add leeks, onion, potato and stock and bring to a boil.
4. Cover and simmer 20-25 minutes until potatoes are soft.
5. Blend the soup until smooth using an immersion blender adding milk (if desired), salt and pepper to taste.