One of those vegetables that you already know you should be eating more of, but probably aren’t eating enough, leeks are plants that grow in a massive bundle of leaves. Leeks belong in the same family as some other familiar foods like garlic and scallions, but isn’t quite as popular as those other two. Not only are leeks easy to find, but they are also easy to grow on your own property.
Whether you’re growing them or getting them from the grocery store, eating leeks will bring great benefits to your health. That’s good news, especially if you’ve ever tasted a leek. You’d know that they’re sweeter than other vegetables in their group. Let’s look at the nutritional value of this delicious vegetable, and the great health benefits that you get from adding more into your diet.
Nutrition of Leeks
Leeks are vastly underrated for their overall nutrition, especially when you look at the numbers. In each cup of raw sliced leeks, you only get a bit more than 50 calories. Out of those calories, you’re getting about three percent of your daily protein and six percent of your dietary fiber needs, with only 12.6 grams of carbohydrates. Leeks contain big time vitamins, too, with more than half of your recommended amount of vitamin K and a third of your vitamin A needs. Vitamins that contain more than 10 percent daily value include vitamin C, vitamin B6 and folate.
Other vitamins that come in smaller amounts include vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. As for the minerals, there’s 20 percent of your daily manganese and 10 percent of your needed iron. While not over 10 percent, leeks are a significant source in calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and copper. The cherry on top is that there is less than one gram of fat, no cholesterol and more than 88 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.
If you pay close attention to fad diets, you might have noticed that one of the more popular diets over the past decade or so involved eating a lot of leeks. This popular diet was known as the Leek Soup Diet, and was met with varying success. Obviously, eating nothing but leeks is probably going to drive you mad, but looking at the nutrition of leeks, it’s pretty obvious that you can lose weight by making it a big part of your diet.
Leeks are incredibly low in calories, while still bringing plenty of proper nutrition. It’s not out of the realm of possibility to eat a lot of leeks and take vitamin supplements for a weight loss diet, but fighting off cravings will be difficult. Making leeks part of one meal a few teams per week or even as a snack is ideal, and can help you lower your calorie count while also burning body fat in stubborn areas of the body.
As we mentioned earlier, the most abundant vitamin that you can find in leeks is vitamin K. Not all foods are a significant source of vitamin K, so you might not be getting as much as you need without even knowing about it. Vitamin K has a lot of benefits, but the biggest one that it has is for your skeletal system. Vitamin K helps your body to produce osteocalcin, one of the building blocks for your bones.
More vitamin K in your diet lowers your chances of getting osteoporosis and arthritis, which are two common age-related bone problems. Leeks and a small glass of milk in your diet can provide much of the nutrients that your bones need. Even outside of your bones, vitamin K makes the blood in your body flow more efficiently, and a deficiency in this vitamin can cause bleeding and other problems.
Many of us might think of our exterior appearance and health more than our inside health, and leeks can help you out with both. Leeks contain vitamins that are essential to your skin, including vitamins C and E. Vitamin C allows your body to produce more collagen, creating more elasticity in your skin. Vitamin E (as well as vitamin A) help prevent free radicals from giving you signs of aging such as wrinkles, and will give you a more natural glow.
Those vitamins also prevent damage from UV rays that can cause aging, as well as the wonderful antioxidant known as beta-carotene. Your hair even gets a boost from these vitamins as you’ll have a healthier scalp. This allows you to grow hair faster, and it will also come in thicker and shinier.
We discussed how your skin and bones can start to fade with age, but your eyes are probably the first thing that you notice being affected by age. UV rays and free radicals are two of the leading causes for decreased vision as you get older, and eating more leeks can protect your eye health for years to come.
Leeks contain some very important compounds known as zeaxanthin and lutein, which are linked to drastically reduced chances of macular degeneration. This disease happens when your DNA is oxidized and allows more harmful UV rays into your eyes. So before your vision starts to fade, do yourself a favor and start eating more leeks (and other vegetables such as carrots) to protect your vision.
Even outside of the eyes, leeks can help your body prevent many different diseases. With large quantities of antioxidants such as vitamin C that boost your immune system, the free radicals won’t be equipped well enough to do cell damage. Free radicals can even cause cancer, and you lower your chances when eating leeks. Another big antioxidant is allyl sulfide, which have been shown to stop tumors from forming in the body. It just goes to show that leeks can help you feel better today and for many years down the road.
Summing it Up
Low calories, fat and carbs with high nutritional value, so what’s not to love about leeks? Is there really anything negative that can happen when you add them to your diet? Thankfully, there aren’t many side effects that have been found for leeks in the slightest. The only thing is that pregnant or nursing women should consult a doctor to get a specific diet, which may or may not include leeks. Other than that, they are completely safe to eat for anybody, which is good news.
The biggest problem that people have with leeks is how tough they can be to grow in their own garden. Leeks can grow incredibly fast in the warmer months, taking up a lot of room. When that’s the most common complaint that you can find about a food, that’s when you know you found a good one. With all of that said, leeks taste sweet for being a leafy green vegetable and that makes them very appealing. Feel free to add them to your diet, and enjoy the great taste and health benefits that they’ll bring!