Leeks resemble a spring onion/ scallion, just much broader in their stems. And that’s because they are part of the the onion family, making them a direct relation to shallots, garlic, chives, and scallions.
How To Prep Leeks
Leeks in the Kitchen
Look for leeks that are green and firm, not limp, not wilted or dried out. The bulbs should be intact, unblemished and have a few small roots attached. Smaller leeks (<1.5 inches diameter) will be more tender than larger leeks.
Leeks should be stored in a refrigerator crisper wrapped loosely in plastic and will keep for up to two weeks. Do not wash or cut until ready to use.
Leeks can be sliced finely and tossed raw into salads, added to stir fries, boiled and used as a wrap for filling (similar to cabbage rolls), or they make a great base for soups and stews.
They can also be drizzled with olive oil and baked.
Poach or Saute leeks in a bit or olive oil or broth 5-10 minutes or until just tender.
Boil leeks 15-20 minutes or until tender.
Fry leeks in 1 Tablespoon of butter or coconut oil until crispy and browned about 5-10 minutes.
Leeks Nutrition Highlights
- Leeks are very low in calories, providing only 32 calories per cup cooked
- Leeks are a low glycemic index food with a value of about 15
- Leeks are an excellent source of vitamin K
- Leeks provide key minerals such as manganese, copper, and folate
- Leeks are relatively low in carbs (less than 8 g per cup cooked) and high in fiber
- Leeks are a good source of prebiotics
Health Benefits of Leeks
- Vitamin K allows blood to clot and strengthens the bones and heart
- Manganese is essential for metabolism and bone formation
- Copper is required for growth, cell formation, brain development, and glucose transport
- Folate is a key coenzyme needed for protein and DNA synthesis
- Fiber helps prevent constipation and may help lower cholesterol
- Prebiotics feed healthy bacteria in the gut, helping them produce vitamins and digestive enzymes and regulating immune function
Research on Leeks Specific to Diabetes
Leeks have been shown to inhibit a-amylase activity, which help supports a range of anti-diabetic functions.
Leeks contain allicin, which has been shown to be protective against diabetic neuropathyand metabolic syndrome. It also seems to have a cardioprotective function in those with diabetes and may help reduce depression.
Points for Consideration
Leeks contain fructans and oligosaccharides. These are prebiotic carbohydrates that colonize and ferment in the colon. While this is beneficial for most people, some people have difficulty digesting these and IBS sufferers will want to avoid leek if following a FODMAP diet.