Lowly leeks lower cholesterol

The leek has been revered by many civilisations, including the Ancient Greeks and Romans for their mystical and medicinal powers, however the Welsh have made it their own by adopting it as one of their National emblems.

Whoever suggested that Welsh soldiers wore a leek in their hats to distinguish them from the enemy during the battle of Heathfield back in 633AD, couldn’t have guessed that it would link the leek to the Welsh forever - although why the leek was chosen is a bit of a mystery. The time of year may have had something to do with it, with leeks being in season in October when the battle was fought. Perhaps coincidentally, leeks are also one of the few vegetables which are naturally in season in the UK in March, and many believe St. David included leeks in his frugal diet of water, bread and herbage.

Today science has proved the leek to be more than just the onion’s second cousin. They contain many of the beneficial compounds found in other well researched plants in the Allium family such as garlic. Studies have shown that eating allium veggies as little as twice a week can reduce the risk of colon, stomach and prostate cancer and also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Leeks are also a good source of manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate, and iron.

When it comes to cooking, their mild sweet flavour makes them the daddy of the alliums as they can be used more liberally without fear of overpowering the flavour of other ingredients. Better still, their versatility is beyond question as they are equally as tasty sautéed, steamed, baked or braised – on their own or as an added ingredient in recipes.