Leeks Nutrition And Health Benefits

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leeks nutrition

Leeks nutrition and health benefits includes improving eye health, healthy skin, supporting cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure, preventing anemia, and relieving inflammation.

Other leeks nutrition and health benefits also includes improving bone health, supporting kidney function, managing type 2 diabetes, preventing cancer, aiding weight loss and improving digestion.

What Is Leeks?

Leek is a vegetable, a cultivar of Allium ampeloprasum, the broadleaf wild leek. The edible part of the plant is a bundle of leaf sheaths that is sometimes erroneously called a stem or stalk. The genus Allium also contains the oniongarlicshallot, scallion, chive,and Chinese onion.

Leek requires well-drained, fertile soil to flourish. In general, it is cultivated as an annual crop in many parts of Europe and Asia. Farmers either sow seeds or transplant already raised seedlings sets in the field that take about 100-120 days to harvest.

In general, leeks are planted in deep trenches to deprive them of sunlight which otherwise would turn their stalks green (chlorophyll pigmentation) due to photosynthesis. As the plant grows in height, farmers gradually fill the trench by pulling surrounding earth to create a mound around the stalk. This method applied in order to obtain long, white, sweet, and blanched stalks instead of green, sharp, and pungent ones.

Leeks Nutrition.  

Leeks are one of the good sources of vitamin-A (1667 IU or 55% of RDA per 100 g) and other flavonoid phenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, xanthin, and lutein. They also have some other essential vitamins such as vitamin-C, K, and vitamin-E. Vitamin-C helps the human body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.

See the table below for an in-depth analysis of leeks nutrition (A. ampeloprasum var. porrum), Nutrient value per 100 g, (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 61 Kcal 2%
Carbohydrates 14.15 g 11%
Protein 1.50 g 3%
Total Fat 0.30 g 1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 1.8 g 5%
Vitamins    
Folates 64 µg 16%
Niacin 0.400 mg 2.5%
Pantothenic acid 0.140 mg 3%
Pyridoxine 0.233 mg 18%
Riboflavin 0.030 mg 2%
Thiamin 0.060 mg 5%
Vitamin A 1667 IU 55%
Vitamin C 12 mg 20%
Vitamin E 0.92 mg 6%
Vitamin K 47 µg 39%
Electrolytes    
Sodium 20 mg 1%
Potassium 180 mg 4%
Minerals    
Calcium 59 mg 6 %
Copper 0.120 mg 13%
Iron 2.10 mg 26%
Magnesium 28 mg 7%
Manganese 0.481 mg 2%
Phosphorus 35 mg 5%
Selenium 1 µg 2%
Zinc 1.2 mg 11%
Phyto-nutrients    
Carotene-ß 1000 µg
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 1900 µg
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Leeks Health Benefits.  

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leeks nutrition

Eyesight:

Leeks are rich in vitamin A, a necessary vitamin for the proper functioning of the eyes and for overall eye health. Leeks are also abundant in antioxidants which combat free radicals that enter the body and prevent it from doing damage to the eyes.

If not prevented, free radicals may cause macular degeneration and other eye issues brought by aging. Vitamin A helps your eyes achieve better achieve better vision under low-light conditions as well, as it is known to promote night vision.

Skin Health:

Antioxidants contained in leeks can combat free radicals and slow down the aging process. Leeks contain Allicin. A compound that has antibacterial properties and keep germs and other foreign invaders out of your skin. It is also anti-viral and anti-fungal. Once allicin is digested in the stomach, it produces sulfenic acid which neutralizes bacteria and many other microbes that may cause infection is allowed to enter the intestines.

Cardiovascular Health:

Leeks have high amounts of kaempferol, a flavonoid that helps protect blood vessels from damage caused by hyperactive oxygen molecules. This method of protecting blood vessels also produces a naturally occurring gas called nitric oxide or NO. Nitric oxide helps dilate and relax blood vessels.

Another advantage of leek is its concentration of folate, which is in its bioactive form and is in fact present in all parts of the plant. Folate promotes heart health and ensures homocysteine levels are in proper balance. Even moderate amounts of homocysteine can bring harm to the cardiovascular system. Folate breaks down homocysteine into beneficial amino acids.

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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.

It also contain a substantial amount of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is important in improving cardiovascular health and prevents heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular disorders. Fiber helps in the elimination bad cholesterol and prevents plaque formation within the arteries.

Blood Pressure:

Potassium serves as a vasodilator which minimizes the tension from the blood vessels to provide smooth flow of blood through the arteries. Leeks are abundant in this nutrient. Potassium also helps maintain homeostatic balance between sodium, and plays an important role in overall heart muscle contractility.

Bone Health:

Leeks can help keep your bones healthy and strong and reduce the risk of developing conditions like osteoporosis. They contain a good amount of vitmins like vitamin k and minerals like calcium as well as magnesium both of which are vital to ensuring bone health.

 Anemia:

leeks contain a good amount of iron which help prevent anemia and similar conditions. Symptoms of anemia stemming from iron deficiency include fatigue, headaches and general weakness. Leeks are also a good source of vitamin C which helps the body to absorb iron better.

Inflammatory diseases: 

Leeks can fight chronic low-level inflammatory states such as diabetes, obesity and rheumatoid arthritis by virtue of its polyphenol and kaempferol content.

Kidneys Health:

Leeks are natural diuretics. It help you increase the amount of sodium and water expelled from your body as urine. Natural diuretics are beneficial to those individuals with hypertension, helping to preserve kidney function by reducing accumulation of water soluble toxins or salts. 

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Diuretics work by helping your kidneys flush out more sodium into your urine. Sodium takes water from the blood and reduces the pressure on vessel walls- better known as your blood pressure.

Type 2 Diabetes:

Leeks are low in calories and are a low glycemic index food. These vegetables 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. Leeks also contain allicin which helps reduce the likelihood of metabolic syndrome and diabetic neuropathy occurring. Flavonoids and antioxidants found in leeks fight free radical damage and strengthen a diabetic individual’s cardiac function.

Fight cancer: 

Leeks are a good source of allyl sulfides which have been shown to modify certain pathways associated with the growth of tumors.

Weight loss: 

Leeks are great for weight loss programs as they have a low calorific value. Also, the significant fiber content helps keep one satiated for long and boosts metabolism.

Digestive Health:

Leeks are actually a natural source of prebiotics. Prebiotics are the good type of bacteria that thrive in the digestive tract. They contribute to a healthy digestive system and are play an important role in the absorption of nutrients.

Eating leeks can help keep the stomach’s bacterial environment in balance, help to eliminate toxins and stimulate digestive fluids. All of these factors contribute to a healthy digestive system and can help improve overall health.

 

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