Leeks: Nine Amazing Benefits

Leeks are rich in vitamins A and C, good for the eyes, immunity, among other benefits


Edited and resized image of Heather Gill is available on Unsplash

Leek, a vegetable with a scientific name allium porrum, is a plant that belongs to the same family as onion, garlic and chives. Besides being tasty, it is rich in vitamins C and A, it is good for the eyes, immunity, among other benefits. Check out:

  • Seven Benefits of Raw and Cooked Onions
  • Ten Benefits of Garlic for Health
  • Properties of chives and their health benefits

1. It is rich in nutrients

Leeks are low in calories and very rich in vitamins and minerals. A 100 gram serving of cooked leeks has just 31 calories. At the same time, this portion supplies provitamin A carotenoids, including beta-carotene. This means that leeks are good for vision, immune function and cell communication.

It is also a good source of vitamin K1 - necessary for blood clotting and heart health - and manganese, a compound that helps reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and promote thyroid health.

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2. It has antioxidants

Leeks are a great source of antioxidants, particularly polyphenols and sulfur compounds. It is rich in kaempferol, a polyphenol antioxidant that protects the body from heart disease and some types of cancer (see studies about it here: 1, 2, 3).

In addition, leeks are a great source of allicin, the same beneficial sulfur compound that gives garlic its antimicrobial, cholesterol-lowering and anti-cancer properties (see studies about it here: 4, 5)

  • Antioxidants: what are they and in what foods to find them

3. Reduces inflammation and is good for the heart

Several studies demonstrate a relationship between vegetables in the leek family and a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Although most of these studies were done with garlic and onions, leeks contain several beneficial compounds that reduce inflammation and protect heart health (see study here: 6).

The kaempferol present in leeks, for example, has anti-inflammatory properties. Foods rich in Kaempferol are associated with a lower risk of heart attacks or death from heart disease (see study here: 7).

In addition, leeks are a good source of allicin and other thiosulfinates, sulfur compounds that can benefit heart health, reducing cholesterol, blood pressure and the formation of blood clots (see studies about it here: 8, 9, 10, 11).

4. Can help with weight loss

Like most vegetables, leeks can be an ally for those who want to lose weight. With 31 calories per 100 grams, this vegetable is a good source of fiber, a structure that reduces appetite (see studies on this: 12, 13).

7. Good for digestion

As a good source of soluble fiber, including prebiotics - which help to keep the intestine healthy - leeks are good for digestion (see study about it here: 20). Gut bacteria that feed on prebiotics such as leeks produce short-chain fatty acids such as acetate, propionate and butyrate. These acids help reduce inflammation and strengthen intestinal health (see studies on this here: 20, 21).

  • What is dietary fiber and its benefits?

6. Protects against certain types of cancer

Leeks have a variety of compounds that help fight cancer. Kaempferol, for example, is associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases, especially cancer. Test-tube research shows that it can fight cancer by reducing inflammation, killing cancer cells and preventing it from spreading (see studies on this here: 14, 15). Like common garlic, leeks are also a good source of allicin, a sulfur compound that offers anticancer properties similar to kaempferol (see study about it here: 16).

In addition, studies in humans have shown that people who frequently consume vegetables from the garlic family, including leeks, may have up to 46% less risk of gastric cancer than those who consume this type of vegetable rarely (see study here for respect: 17). Likewise, high intake of alliums may be linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer (see studies about it here: 18, 19).

7-9. Other potential benefits

Although leeks are not studied as rigorously as onions and garlic, some research suggests they may offer benefits such as:

  1. Lower blood sugar levels. Sulfur compounds in alliums have been shown to effectively lower blood sugar levels (see study here);
  2. Promote brain function. These sulfur compounds can also protect your brain from mental decline and age-related illness (see study here);
  3. Fight infections. Animal research shows that kaempferol, present in leeks, can protect against bacterial, viral and fungal infections (see study about it here).

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