Leeks are sweeter than onion and packed with vitamins, minerals, and prebiotic fibre

1. Oh so versatile

A national symbol in Wales, the leek is a wonderfully versatile vegetable that wouldn’t be out of place in a simple stir fry, soup, risotto, bake, pesto, or even gently fried with mushrooms as part of a Sunday brunch.

2. Low-carb pasta

Culinary celebrities The Hairy Bikers even once famously used them as a replacement for pasta in their ‘skinny beef lasagne’.

This swap not only would have potentially lowered the glycaemic index (GI) of the dish (i.e. how our blood sugars are affected), but would have added in nutrients that aren’t found in traditional pasta.

3. In season in winter

Whilst we get leeks all year round, according to British Leeks, this relative of the onion is at its best from November through to April.

Traditionally, this would have been the leek’s ‘season’ so it’s perhaps unsurprising that leeks have traditionally been used with winter vegetables in warming soups.

4. Packed with nutrients

Nutritionally, as well as being a source of vitamins K, A, C and E, leeks contain small amounts of the B vitamins thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), B6 and folate (B9).

Minerals include manganese, iron, calcium and magnesium.

Like onions and garlic, they also contain an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal compound called allicin, and are also a source of prebiotic dietary fibre.

5. Prebiotic magic

Called oligosaccharides, prebiotics are long chain, natural ‘sugars’ that make a substance called inulin which, in turn, is a type of fibre that we cannot digest.

After passing through the small intestine to the colon, where most of our gut bacteria live, inulin naturally ferments, producing food for the bacteria.

This is possible a reason why consumption of leeks (along with consumption of garlic and onions) has been associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer.

In rat studies, consumption of prebiotics has also been associated with improved sleep.

6. Yummy!

Health benefits aside, leeks are delicious.

Here are some recipes for those looking for some culinary inspiration:

Enjoyed this article?

Learn about the health benefits of cinnamon

For articles and recipes subscribe to Optimum Nutrition

Discover our courses in nutrition