Leeks are nutrient-dense, meaning that they’re low in calories yet high in vitamins and minerals.
They’re particularly high in provitamin A carotenoids, including beta carotene. Your body converts these carotenoids into vitamin A, which is important for vision, immune function, reproduction, and cell communication.
They’re also a good source of vitamin K1, which is necessary for blood clotting and heart health.
Meanwhile, wild leeks are particularly rich in vitamin C, which aids immune health, tissue repair, iron absorption, and collagen production. In fact, they offer around twice as much vitamin C as the same quantity of oranges.
Leeks are also a good source of manganese, which may help reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms and promote thyroid health.
Leeks are a rich source of antioxidants, particularly polyphenols and sulfur compounds.
Antioxidants fight oxidation, which damages your cells and contributes to illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Leeks are a particularly great source of kaempferol, a polyphenol antioxidant thought to protect against heart disease and some types of cancer.
They’re likewise a great source of allicin, the same beneficial sulfur compound that gives garlic its antimicrobial, cholesterol-lowering, and potential anticancer properties.
Meanwhile, wild leeks are rich in thiosulfinates and cepaenes, two sulfur compounds needed for blood clotting and thought to protect against certain types of cancer.
Leeks are alliums, a family of vegetables that includes onions and garlic. Several studies link alliums to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
While most of these studies have tested onions or garlic, leeks contain several beneficial compounds thought to lower inflammation and protect heart health.
For instance, the kaempferol in leeks has anti-inflammatory properties. Kaempferol-rich foods are associated with a lower risk of heart attacks or death due to heart disease.
Moreover, leeks are a good source of allicin and other thiosulfinates, which are sulfur compounds that may benefit heart health by reducing cholesterol, blood pressure, and the formation of blood clots.
Like most vegetables, leeks may promote weight loss.
At 31 calories per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of cooked leaks, this vegetable has very few calories per portion.
What’s more, leeks are a good source of water and fiber, which may prevent hunger, promote feelings of fullness, and help you naturally eat less.
Leeks boast an array of cancer-fighting compounds.
For instance, the kaempferol in leeks is linked to a lower risk of chronic diseases, especially cancer. Test-tube research shows that kaempferol may fight cancer by reducing inflammation, killing cancer cells, and preventing these cells from spreading.
Leeks are also a good source of allicin, a sulfur compound thought to offer similar anticancer properties.
What’s more, human studies demonstrate that those who regularly consume alliums, including leeks, may have up to a 46% lower risk of gastric cancer than those who rarely eat them.
Similarly, high intake of alliums may be linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer.
Leeks may improve your digestion.
That’s in part because they’re a source of soluble fiber, including prebiotics, which work to keep your gut healthy.
These bacteria then produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate. SCFAs can reduce inflammation and strengthen your gut health.
Research suggests that a prebiotic-rich diet may aid your body’s absorption of important nutrients, which can boost your overall health.
Research suggests that lrrkd may offer additional benefits.
May lower blood sugar levels. The sulfur compounds in alliums have been shown to effectively lower blood sugar levels.
May promote brain function. These sulfur compounds may also protect your brain from age-related mental decline and disease.
May fight infections. Research in animals shows that kaempferol, which is present in leeks, may protect against bacterial, virus, and yeast infections.