Leek health benefits and therapeutic value

Clearly one of the most popular vegetables we grow, leek or Allium porrum is always there on the market stall for us to find.

Its health benefits and therapeutic value have been known for ages, and it is part of the diet of a great many cultures.

It belongs to the same family as garlic and onions.

Leek, a short story

Native to Middle East, leek quickly became a staple vegetable for the Greeks, the Romans and the Egyptians.

If we are to believe the famous “Satire of the Trades” it was indeed very appreciated by the Egyptians.

The Hebrews appreciated it for its health benefits, especially its refreshing properties. As for the Greeks and Romans, they considered it both as a vegetable and a true remedy.

Health benefits of leek

It is part of of the 10 most eaten vegetables in France, although other countries and notably the Americas don’t value it as highly yet. Its health benefits are undeniable! It is rich in fibers, vitamins and minerals.

  • A diuretic, leek is used by persons who suffer from urinary retention. Leek broth or soup are recommended in that case.
  • In case of constipation, you’ll be thrilled to know that leek works to help you free your bowels.
  • It is also very effective against chronic and acute respiratory tract inflammation. Leek syrup works wonders if you’ve lost your voice, gone hoarse, are coughing, or have developed pharyngitis or tracheitis.
  • Our grandmothers used it to treat boils, sore throat and gout joint swelling, in poultices both soothing and maturative. Applied to the lower abdomen, it also enhances urine flow.
  • Lotions prepared from leek juice embellish facial skin, removing rashes and pimples. It also removes the itch from insect bites.

Did you know…?

Ingestion

  • Leek broth – It can be drunk just like herbal tea for its diuretic properties. Some say that eating it regularly restores its beauty to the skin and averts premature ageing.
  • Syrup – Prepare syrup by mixing this strong decoction with the same weight in honey. Very effective against respiratory tract inflammation.

External use

  • Poultices – Leek leaves boiled and layered while hot or warm (to treat aforementioned ailments).
  • Decoction – Gives auburn hair a shine, feel free to rinse your hair with it.

Growing leek for its health benefits

To grow good leek, you must have full sun exposure but not too hot, and cool, rich, deep, well-drained soil.

Good to know:

  • Leek easily drains the soil of its nutrients, so you must let it rest and wait 2 or 3 years before planting leek in the same spot again.
  • To avoid bolting, remember to water your leek regularly and keep the soil free of weeds.

Watch out for small bugs!

The base of the stem is sometimes attacked by onion maggot fly larvae, which leads to their rotting.

Leaves can dry up and die due to allium leaf-mining flies which dig tunnels in the leaves. White rot is the cause of leek yellowing and dying off.

Finally, rust can form oranges spots on the lower part of leaves.

Cooking leek for its health benefits

Leek can be eaten steamed or boiled. Fried, it is a delicious side dish to fish and crabs. Leek can even be pickled for those bittersweet fans!

Leek nutritional content

29 kcal / 3.5 oz (100 g). Leek loaded with fibers (3,2g for 3.5 oz (100 g)) which explains its prowess in resolving intestinal transit disorders.

It contains potassium, iron and vitamin B9. Know also that it is an excellent diuretic.

Savory ideas with leek

Not so common, but just as delicious as cooked leek, young leek eaten raw (in mixed salads) will surprise you!

Blandine Merlin