EN on Foods

April 2009 Issue

Leeks: Onion’s Sweet Cousin, Same Benefits

The Folklore. Leeks have been cultivated for thousands of years—they’re even mentioned in the Bible. The Emperor Nero ate them in great quantity, believing they improved his singing voice, earning him the nickname Porophagus ("leek eater"). The Facts. The lowly leek looks like a scallion on steroids. Indeed, it’s in the same family, along with garlic, onions and shallots. However, its flavor is more subtle than any of its cousins. Wild leeks, called ramps, are related, though they are more strongly flavored than the cultivated leeks you find in the supermarket. As a member of the Allium family, leeks contain the same healthful sulfur compounds found in garlic and onions, but in smaller amounts; you’ll need to eat more of leeks to reap the same benefits. Leeks also bring benefits like manganese, vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6 and iron.

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