What are the health benefits of eating leeks? This low calorie food is in the same family as onions, garlic, scallions, and shallots, which is the genus Allium. One cup chopped provides you with 29% of your daily value of vitamin A, 17% of vitamin C, and 10% for iron and vitamin B-6. Not to mention 1.3 grams of protein and all of this for only 54 calories.
Those are the most common nutrition facts you will see listed for leeks, but if you dig deeper you find some of the more special reasons leeks are healthy for you.
That same 1 cup provides you with approximately 26 micrograms of vitamin K. This is an important nutrient for bone health which is rarely discussed. The Adequate Intakes (AIs) as outlined by the National Institute of Health are 120 mcg per day for males and 90 mcg for females (1). Many people fall short of these levels. Learn more about good dietary sources of vitamin K2.
The form of folate leeks provide is 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, which is a bioactive form that our bodies can make use of. Research suggests that folate can decrease the homocysteine concentration in our blood. Why is that a good thing? Because high levels create a pro-inflammatory environment which can contribute to and worsen a number of health conditions and diseases, such as atherosclerosis (2).
As far as how much antioxidants leeks have, it's an amount comparable to white and sweet onions. Within the onion family, red onions are an excellent source, providing almost 3 times more than leeks.
USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2 - Prepared by Nutrient Data Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - May 2010