Have you ever thought of including the best vegetables among equals in your meals? Think no further, because leek, being categorized as one of the world's healthiest vegetables is right about the answer.

We don't need to worry so much about how to maintain a healthy body system once we adopt the habit of regularly including this healthy vegetable in our diets. So when you need some fresh leek vegetables, just head straight down to the supermarket or farmer's market and grab some reasonable quantities that are big enough to serve the whole family for a couple of dishes.

Honestly, I can't emphasizing on the importance of this vegetable because nutritionists have revealed some vital benefits and reasons why we should include more leeks in our diets.

    Heads up on this veggie;

Leek is of the genus Allium and belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family and Allioideae subfamily with other vegetables such as garlic, shallot and onion. Leeks are regarded as the cultivars of Allium ampeloprasum with two other similar vegetables such as Kurrat and elephant garlic.

Historically, leek is known as a symbol of ancient tradition of Wales while Romanians consider leek as a symbol of Oltenia. Due to the historical symbol of leek in Wales, this plant has gained immense culinary attention in that part of the globe.

The consumable part of the leek plant comprises of a bundle of leaf sheaths of greenish stalks or stems. The leaf sheaths are cylindrical in shape and the outer parts of the sheaths tend to be hard. The two common types are the summer and overwintering leeks and each of them, as their names suggest are harvested the seasons when planted.

Leeks are usually upright and firm in appearance with white necks and dark green leaves. They are usually available all year round with greater quantity obtainable from fall to spring.

10 Amazing Benefits of Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum)
If you take a closer look at the info-graphic, you will find out that this vegetable is packed with loads of amazing benefits that we can't do away with. To mention but a few, some of the benefits are;
1. Cardiovascular Benefits
Leek is a rich source of vitamin B folate, which is one of the bioactive form of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate present throughout the plant. The presence of folate in leek helps to maintain a balanced homocysteine level thereby supporting the cardiovascular system as well as preventing cardiovascular diseases. Leek is an excellent source of flavonoid kaempferol and polyphenols, which is an antioxidant that protects the blood vessel linings and blood cells from oxidative damage. 

The aspect of blood vessel protection requires increased production of nitric oxide that helps the blood vessels to dilate and relax. It also leads to a reduction in the production level of asymmetric dimethylarginine, which is a substance that blocks the production of nitric oxide. Leeks also contain  The phyto-nutrients in leeks are very vital for preventing cardiovascular diseases.
2. Anti-inflammatory 
Leek possess anti-inflammatory properties, which makes them suitable for preventing chronic diseases.
3. Reduction of High Cholesterol Level
Studies report that leeks contain an anti-oxidant known as allicin that reduces cholesterol production and formation in the body.
4. Source of Vitamins
Leeks are an excellent source of vitamins such as thiamin, iron, vitamin A, folic acid, calcium, riboflavin, magnesium, xanthin, pyridoxine, which are all vital for proper functioning of the human body. Moreover, the presence of vitamin C and K in leek acts as a resistance to disease-causing organisms and infectious bacteria. Leeks contain low calories and their upright stalks are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber. The anti-oxidant contents of leeks such as allyl propl disulfide, diallyl disulfide and dially trisulfide are usually converted to allicin, which is anti-bactericidal, anti-fungal and anti-viral in nature.
5. Repellent
Leeks juice can be used as a moth repellent and the entire plant is believed to repel moles and insects.
6. Anti-carcinogenic
Studies reveal that the leek vegetables contain organosulfur, an anti-oxidant compounds that are helpful in preventing prostate and stomach cancer.
7. Culinary Purposes
Leek vegetable has a characteristics greenish firm and upright stalk with a crunchy texture. The consumable parts of leek are the light green areas, slightly green part and the white base area that have a similar appearance with baby onions. Leeks have similar tastes with onions and they are packed with flavor. Before using leeks for food preparations, they are usually cut or sliced into pieces, however the dark green part of it is thrown away due to it's thick texture. Interestingly, some people still use these thick stalk to prepare certain types of dishes and cuisines.

Leeks can be sautéed, boiled, fried or eaten raw in salads. Whichever method of preparation requires this vegetable to be chopped and handled with care to avoid losing all the vital nutrients. Handling with care requires not overcooking them and consuming them as fresh as possible. Different countries have different recipes for leeks; British prepare leek soup while Turkish prepare sarma with leeks etc.
8. High Immunity Level
Leeks when consumed raw, helps to boost the human body immune system due to its anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.
9. Anti-inflammatory
The presence of K vitamins in leeks makes them ideal for reducing inflammation that causes diseases such as diabetes.
10. Anti-diuretic
Leeks contain excellent diuretic agents that acts on the kidneys to control water excretion. This vegetable is highly recommended for individuals suffering from water retention problems.

This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your health care provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.

Bernaert N. et al., (2012), Antioxidant changes of leek (Alliumampeloprasumvar.porrum) duringspontaneous fermentation of the white shaftand green leaves, Journal of Science Food Agriculture.
David R. H, Arockiasamy D. I. (2008), In vitro Propagation of Mentha viridis L. from Nodal and Shoot tip Explants, Plant Tissue Cult & Biotech;18:1-6.
Monemi M. B., Kazemitabar K., Khaniki G. B., Yasari E., Sohrevardi F., Pourbagher R. (2014), Tissue Culture Study of The Medicinal Plant Leek (Allium Ampeloprasum L), International Journal of Molecular Cell Medicine Spring,Vol 3 No 2, pp. 1-4
Nielsen G. S. and Poll L. (2004), Determination of Odor Active Aroma Compounds in Freshly Cut Leek (Allium ampeloprasum Var. Bulga) and in Long-Term Stored Frozen Unblanched and Blanched Leek Slices by Gas Chromatography Olfactometry Analysis, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52 (6).
Xiao H. B, Jun-Fang, Lu XY et al. (2009), Protective effects of kaempferol against endothelial damage by an improvement in nitric oxide production and a decrease in asymmetric dimethylarginine level, European Journal of PharmacologyVolume 616, Issues 1-3, pp. 213-219.



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