Leeks may be one of Wales’ national symbols.1 Still, we think leeks are too tasty – and packed full of health benefits – to only be enjoyed by the Cymry (that’s the Welsh, for those of us who don’t speak Cymraeg.)
Noble spirits have always loved leeks. Ancient Egypt’s Pharaohs decorated their tombs with them. Ancient Romans preferred them to both garlic and onions, which modern Italians may find shocking!2
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about leeks – to inspire you to go out and cook with them yourselves.
What are leeks?
Leeks are a member of the allium family and count onion, garlic, chives, spring onions, and shallots among their relatives.3 The leek’s edible part is the tightly wound bundle of leaf sheaths, which we commonly consider the stalk.
Health benefits of leeks
Eating leeks as part of a healthy lifestyle can support you in achieving your wellness goals, thanks to these health benefits linked to leek consumption:
Encourage eye health
Leeks contain carotenoids, which have been associated with better eye health later in life.4,5
Ease menstrual pain
A portion of leeks provides 11% of your daily recommended manganese, which can help with PMS symptoms and menstrual cramps.6
Protect heart health
Leeks contain a potent antioxidant known as kaempferol, which has been known to protect the heart from diseases associated with ageing.7,8
Support weight loss goals
One portion of leek contains only 32 calories, but they are typically filling because of their high water content.9 In conjunction, these two aspects can help you achieve weight loss goals by reducing your calorie intake.
Leeks nutrition profile
A 104g portion of leeks provides10:
|Energy||Vitamin K||Manganese||Copper||Vitamin B6|
|32 kcal||29% of RDA||11% of RDA||7% of RDA||7% of RDA|
- Vitamin K promotes wound healing11
- Manganese supports the body in making chemical reactions12
- Copper helps produce blood cells and transport oxygen throughout the body13
- Vitamin B6 helps the body convert the energy acquired from food14
Leeks also contain vitamin C, folate, iron, vitamin A, and fibre.
How to include more leeks in your diet
Fresh, good quality leeks are delicious simply sauteed in butter, or oil, and served with salt, as a side dish to a hearty Sunday roast.
Alternatively, you could try cooking leeks in these recipes:
- Pea and leek tart
- Leek and chicken pie
- Leek and bacon risotto
- Jacket potatoes, stuffed with cheese, leeks and fresh herbs
- Goats cheese and leek quiche
Those with irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive complaints may want to avoid this vegetable, as leeks have been known to cause adverse symptoms in sufferers of some conditions.15
Last updated: 2 March 2021
Author: Bhupesh Panchal
- Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019
- Qualifications: Masters Degree in Toxicology, BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
Bhupesh specialises in vitamins & minerals nutrition, health benefits & safety of botanicals and traditional herbal medicines.
In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.
Author: Bhupesh Panchal
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164534/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8498421/