Leeks are good for the intestines and eyes; see benefits and how to consume – 04/25/2022

Belonging to the garlic and onion family, but with a lighter flavor, leeks are also very healthy. It contains essential minerals for the health of the bone structure, muscle and cardiovascular system; vitamin C, which strengthens immunity, is good for skin health and helps in the absorption of iron; and B vitamins, which act on the nervous, cardiovascular and digestive systems.

Researchers suggest that it originated in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, but has spread around the world over the years. “In some countries and regions, the vegetable is known as leek, male garlic or leek”, says Hellen Suleman, nutritionist and gastronomy instructor at Senac EAD (National Service for Distance Education Commerce). In Brazil, leek production is concentrated in the states of the South and Southeast regions.

benefits of leek

A tablespoon of leeks has about 4.8 kcal, 1.04 g of carbohydrates, 0.21 g of protein, 0.38 g of dietary fiber and 0.01 g of fat. Here are its main health benefits:

1. Helps in the functioning of the digestive system

With high fiber content, leeks help maintain the proper functioning of the digestive system. The vegetable also has inulin, a prebiotic compound, that is, it serves as food for the good bacteria in the intestine, helping them to reproduce and contributing to the health of the intestinal flora.

2. Combats premature aging and has anti-inflammatory action

Leeks are rich in antioxidants, such as flavonoids and polyphenols, substances that inhibit the oxidizing action of free radicals, fighting premature aging of the skin, hair and body in general. In a study that evaluated the content of polyphenols and antioxidant activity in onions, garlic and leeks, the latter showed more antioxidant activity than garlic.

Leeks also help prevent inflammatory diseases and calcification of arteries, due to the presence of vitamin K.

3. Prevents fluid retention

The vegetable has diuretic power, which fights fluid retention, thus helping to alleviate swelling throughout the body and eliminate toxins.

4. It’s good for heart health

Leeks lower the risk of heart disease, strengthen the immune system and prevent blood sugar spikes.

5. Good for the eyes

Leeks contain lutein and zeaxanthin, substances that protect the eye from oxidation and aging.

how to consume

“The watchword for leeks is versatility”, says Eva Andrade, maternal and child nutritionist, master in nutrition at PPGNUT-UFRN (postgraduate program in nutrition at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte), postgraduate student in food science and technology at IFRN (Federal Institute of Rio Grande do Norte and a food safety consultant.

Leeks can be eaten raw, grilled, boiled, roasted or fried. The sliced ​​white part becomes a pie filling, salad, gives flavor to rice and risotto. As it has a slight burn, it marries perfectly with neutral ingredients, such as cheese, egg and potato. “You can also make a bold combination full of personality, joining the leek to outstanding ingredients, such as blue cheese, chestnuts and mustard”, indicates Andrade.

“The leaves are hard and difficult to consume, but they are aromatic and can add flavor to broths and soups”, he suggests. Audie Nathaniel Momm, nutrition specialist at HSPE (Hospital for State Civil Servants).

The vegetable can be stored in a plastic bag inside the fridge or frozen. “When well packaged, the leek lasts about five days in the refrigerator”, says the nutritionist.

According to Suleman, to freeze, you must remove the green leaves, roots and the green part of the stalk. Cut the white part in half lengthwise and separate the pieces. Wash well under running water, removing all dirt adhered to the stalk. Place in boiling water for two to three minutes and then in ice water for two to three minutes (bleaching). Drain the excess water and make small portions, packing them in packaging for freezing (plastic packages, glass jars) etc. It lasts up to three months in the freezer.

Here’s a recipe with the vegetable:

Soup Vichyssoise

Ingredients:

  • 40 g of butter
  • 8 leek stalks
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 900 ml of chicken broth
  • 450 ml fresh cream
  • Nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 green onion stalks

Method of preparation:

  1. Place the butter in the pan and melt over medium or low heat. When melted, add the thinly sliced ​​leek (only the white part) and sauté for 5 minutes, without browning.
  2. Add the potato in small cubes and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Mix Sometimes.
  3. Add the chicken broth and wait for it to boil. Lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes. After this time, turn off the heat and let it cool for a few moments.
  4. Beat the soup gradually in a blender or with a mixer until it becomes a cream. Add the cream and nutmeg and mix with a wire whisk. season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bring the soup back to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. If necessary, add a little more broth to thin the soup.
  6. Let it cool and when it is at room temperature, cover with cling film. Store in the fridge and serve the next day.
  7. When serving, adjust the seasoning, sprinkle with the chopped chives and serve in chilled containers.

*Soup can also be served hot.

Risks and Contraindications

There are practically no absolute contraindications, however, according to Momm, some care must be taken. “Because it is rich in potassium, it may be convenient for people who need to avoid this nutrient not to consume it”, warns the nutritionist. Those who have chronic kidney disease, for example, need to limit the consumption of this mineral, because the kidneys cannot process it properly, causing it to accumulate in the blood. Medications used to treat kidney disease can also raise potassium levels.

Excessive consumption of leeks can also cause digestive problems such as flatulence (due to its contribution of sulfur compounds) and diarrhea. “Large amounts of leeks daily can still cause a feeling of unease and a decrease in blood pressure,” adds Andrade.

Allium species, Suleman recalls, contain high levels of sulfur-based compounds, which are known to reduce blood clotting. Thus, it may be contraindicated for individuals who have blood clotting problems, take anticoagulant drugs, have thrombosis or suspect unconsolidated thrombi, suffer from bleeding and have very heavy menstruation. “Consumption in excess may enhance the anticoagulant effect, making the blood fluid, which is very beneficial in some cases, but can be harmful in the aforementioned cases”, concludes Suleman.

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