Leeks are scallion-like vegetables with the whitebulb-shaped base and a stalk of leaves above. Raw leeks are firm and crunchyand have a taste resembling that of onion they are abundant in vitamins andminerals and hence play a role in maintaining good health.
Health benefits of leeks
Leeks aid stabilize the blood sugar levels, because nutrients likeiron, manganese, folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin C enable propermetabolism of sugars, thus reducing their levels in the blood. Leeks also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseaselike arteriosclerosis, stroke or heart attack and they prevent the formation ofarterial plaque that may lead to these conditions by regulating the levels ofcholesterol. Leeks are capable of increasing the level of good HDL cholesteroland lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) level. Another benefit of leeks is that itreduces elevated blood pressure. High content of fiber in these vegetables provides the bodywith the energy it needs for digestion and metabolism.
Medical research has confirmed that eating leeks can preventthe occurrence of ovarian cancer, because they contain a substancecalled kaempferol, a natural flavonoid also found in broccoli, spinach, onion,grapefruit, and blueberries. The chemicals present in this vegetable can also reduce therisk of colon and prostate cancer, but as these cancer-fighting agents occur inleeks in small quantities it is important to consume large amount of leeks tobenefit from this property they have. Pregnant women benefit from leek consumption as it is anexcellent source of a vitamin called folate, which is known to prevent birthdefects like encephalitis and spina bifida (condition related to the spine). Thanks to their antiseptic properties like leeks are effectiveagainst infections and other types of contamination. Leeks also promote good bone health by being rich incalcium and this essential mineral also helps the blood to clot properly.
Handling the vegetable
Before the consumption of leeks, thorough cleaning is highlyadvisable in order to get rid of the dust and dirt that may be present in the vegetable. The outer covering, rootlets and green top sections shouldbe removed before cutting. Leeks can be cut cross-sectionally or longitudinally, along thecenter line, and it is important to wash the sliced vegetable under running water after cutting.
Leeks are not recommended for daily consumptions to persons with kidney and gallbladder conditions, due to the chemicals known as oxalates which are capable of crystallizingin the body and causing health problems. Oxalates also affect the metabolism ofcalcium.