Leeks are a nutrient-dense member of the allium (onion) family with a Nutrivore Score of 1128! Consumption of alliums is linked to numerous health benefits including lower risk of cancer and improved cardiovascular health. Vegetables in this family are high in inulin fiber and an impressive array of phytonutrients, including flavonoids and a class of organosulfur compounds called thiosulfinates, which are the compounds responsible for the distinctive pungent flavor of allium vegetables like leeks. Thiosulfinates provide diverse beneficial effects, including powerful anticancer properties as well as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antithrombotic effects. In general, thiosulfinates exert their effects by modulating important enzymes (like the cytochrome P450 superfamily and glutathione S-transferases) that help detoxify carcinogens and prevent DNA adducts from forming. A 2020 systematic review and meta-analysis, covering 81 cohort studies (4 031 896 subjects!), examined the impact of different fruits and vegetables with cardiovascular outcomes and found a 67% lower risk of CVD mortality, a 33% reduced risk of coronary heart disease mortality, and an 11% reduced risk of stroke with highest versus lowest consumption of allium vegetables. Impressive! You might even say, on fleek!
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