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Health | Why include leeks in your diet for winter?

by Denise Kelly

 

During the summer months it’s easy to eat healthily. The weather is warmer and fruits and salads are very appealing. Now the weather is getting colder we are naturally hungrier. All my clients keep telling me they are eating too much! Well, that’s because our bodies need more energy to keep warm and we need a bit of extra padding to protect ourselves.

 

Our primitive selves are naturally stocking up for hibernation. Wouldn’t that be lovely? A few months of curling up in a warm place to sleep…mmmmm!

 

Meanwhile, back in the real world I just wanted to say that it is OK to eat a little extra this time of year. But everything in moderation!

 

A fabulous way to keep warm, and keep trim is to cook delicious healthy soups. You can make them in advance and take them to work all week long. No excuses! They are great value for money and you can add in an abundance of super foods including turmeric, coriander and chillies etc for that extra bit of winter protection.

 

A great ingredient in any soup is leek. But how many of us realise the true health potential this often forgotten vegetable can bring to the table? Leeks are a super food, and owe many of their superpowers to their organosulfur compounds. These are phytochemicals that supposedly carry immune-boosting health benefits that we all need in bundles this time of year.

 

These special compounds have been credited with everything from boosting immunity to kicking cancer and can be found in other allium family vegetables too, including garlic, onions, and shallots. It is also firmly believed that leeks could help protect the digestive system from stomach and gastric cancers. Plus, getting a healthy dose of allium veggies could also protect against prostate cancer.

 

It’s interesting because researchers are still uncertain to exactly why leeks may help prevent cancer, but it’s been suggested they could stop the spread of cancer cells by helping to disperse free radicals.

 

Leeks do however, have more than just cancer-fighting skills. If you love counting calories they are very low in calories, and extremely high in minerals. Just one cup packs more than 30 per cent of the daily value of vitamins A and K, and about 15 per cent of the daily recommended foliate and manganese. Just to remind you, Vitamin A helps to maintain healthy skin, teeth, and eyes, while increased folate may help reduce the risk for heart disease and pregnancy complications.

 

Manganese is a brilliant alleviator of your PMS symptoms. So all those husbands/partners out there that don’t want to be on the receiving end of mood swings this month…get adding those leeks to your dishes!

 

Leeks are very versatile, just like its relatives garlic and onion. The white and light green portions of this vegetable are eaten, whilst the darker leaves typically are not. Leeks should be white and green and stiff, not yellow or wilted. No one wants a wilted vegetable in their life, and remember the smaller the stalk, the better the texture. Light can shorten their lifespan, so store them in a dark area or cover in the fridge.

 

Please note: Leeks are safe for most people. However those with kidney stones should avoid, as the oxalates leeks contain could worsen some types of stones. On the other hand, those dealing with swelling due to water retention can have them in abundance as they act as a natural diuretic.

Posted in Food, Health, Lifestyle.