All about leek

Leeks add a delicious flavor to dishes and also help fight winter infections, purify the body and protect the heart.

The leek (Allium porrum), although they are commonly sold in markets throughout the year, it is considered the quintessence of winter and not only adds flavor to many dishes, such as a mild broth or a cold summer soup, but also enriches it with its nutrients and properties for health.

Like its relatives, garlic and onion, it belongs to the plant family Liliaceae. However, its leaves are long and flat, shaped like an elongated onion rather than round, and the flavor is milder.

Origins of the leek

Its origins are in Central Asia and it was already well known in ancient Egypt, as well as among the Greeks and Romans. Carvings and hieroglyphs of this vegetable have been found inside some pyramids, suggesting that its use was widespread in the land of the pharaohs.

History tells that the Greek philosopher Aristotle as well as the Roman emperor Nero used this food very well to strengthen the voice and avoid throat problems.

It was known by many other inhabitants of the Mediterranean basin and was transmitted to the Celtic people through the Romans. It was widely cultivated in the Middle Ages and later spread throughout the world.

Nutritional characteristics

Leeks contain a moderate amount of carbohydrates (7,5 g/100 g), little protein (2 g) and a lot of fiber (3 g).

Minerals present include potassium (260 mg), calcium (60 mg), phosphorus (50 mg) and magnesium (18 mg). And in smaller quantities, in addition to sulfur, there is also iron and trace elements such as selenium, manganese and silicon.

Contains vitamins C (30 mg) and E (2 mg), as well as group B vitamins: folic acid (127 mcg) and vitamin B6 (0,25 mg), important for the nervous and immune systems.

The sulfur compounds in garlic and onion that help improve blood circulation, fight infections and prevent cancer are also found in leeks, although in smaller quantities.

Health benefits

Eating leeks regularly, especially during their natural season, is a way to strengthen your diet for the benefit of your entire body.

Respiratory system

Leek oil is partially excreted through the lungs and has a beneficial bactericidal effect in case of colds and bronchitis.
Likewise, the presence of mucus and expectorants helps improve sore throats, laryngitis, hoarseness and bronchitis.

Joint reliever

Being alkalizing and diuretic due to its high potassium and low sodium content, consuming this vegetable to treat rheumatism, arthritis or gout can help reduce joint inflammation.

Cardio-circulatory system

Thanks to its diuretic properties, it helps reduce blood pressure. Similarly, alliin, an active ingredient also found in garlic and onion, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels, especially “bad” cholesterol or LDH.

In turn, folate and polyphenols neutralize free radicals. This prevents the formation of atherosclerotic plaques on the walls of the arteries, angina and heart attacks.

It prevents the formation of varicose veins and other venous diseases thanks to its beneficial effect on blood vessels (maintaining their elasticity) and its fibrinolytic properties (thinning the blood, preventing the formation of blood clots).

Gastrointestinal system

It helps combat the presence of pathogenic fungi and bacteria thanks to the antibacterial substances it contains. Fiber and mucus also stimulate intestinal transit, relieving constipation and preventing bloating.

Pregnancy

The presence of folic acid contributes to the normal development of the fetus, especially in the first weeks of pregnancy. Most pregnant women take folic acid supplements, but adding this vegetable to your diet is equally beneficial.

Leeks in the kitchen

leek

Like onion and garlic, leek plays a very important role in Mediterranean: cooked with delicacy and care, it has a unique consistency, melts easily in the mouth and gives off a delicate aroma.

In addition, this humble vegetable does not require too much cooking, helping the flavors to harmonize with each other and adapting very well to all types of cooking, from a quick and simple frying in a pan to a slow and long stew.

Its flavor is very aromatic, so its presence in some dishes is considered only as a spice, especially in stews made from legumes and vegetables. It has the ability to add flavor to dishes without taking away other flavors.

There are several types of leeks that vary in size, texture and flavor. For example, autumn and winter leeks are denser and have a stronger flavor, while summer leeks tend to be smaller and have a less intense flavor.

How to choose leeks

Choose leeks with thick, flexible and straight stems, without spots or lumps. If the leaves turn yellow or dry, they may have been stored too long.

They can be kept raw and refrigerated for 10 days and no more than two days after cooking.

As winter approaches, the white part of the leek shortens and the green part grows. However, the green leaves on the outside have a rich flavor and can be used in many different ways, so it would be a shame to throw them away.

The leaves and green parts are great for flavoring broths and stews. As a vegetable, they are delicious cut into thin strips and fried in a pan. Prepared in this way, they can be used as a condiment for many recipes, as a garnish for pizza and focaccia, and also as a complement to pasta just before serving.

Grow leeks

Leeks are very easy vegetables to grow in the garden, even in small boxes or pots if you don't have much space and they don't need much direct sunlight. You will be sure of their aroma and flavor by harvesting them very fresh.

Among the care tasks, their "whitening" should be taken into account so that they grow more tender at their base.

leek

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