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The Leek

St David’s day was celebrated on Friday.  Though you might be familiar with the daffodil as a symbol for this day, did you know that the leek is an alternative?

Leeks are a cultivar of Allium ampeloprasum – a member of the Allium family which also includes garlic, onions, shallots and chives.

They have an abundance of vitamins, minerals and compounds beneficial to your health. They are particularly high in Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C.


Conditions leeks are good for

Wound healing and bone strength

The Vitamin K in leeks assists with blood clotting for wound healing. It also helps maintain bone mineral density.



The Folate in leeks is important during pregnancy to help prevent neural tube defects.   The Vitamin B6 also helps with brain development.


Immune health

Leeks are high in antioxidant vitamin C and B6 to assist immunity. 


Metabolic health

Leeks are high in manganese and B6 which are vital for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.


Heart health

Kaempferol in leeks has anti-inflammatory properties and is associated with a lower risk of heart attacks.  The allicin and other sulfur compounds benefit the heart by reducing cholesterol, blood pressure and the formation of blood clots.


Eye health

Leeks are high in Lutein which plays a protective role in eye health especially for age-related macular degeneration.


A factor in cancer prevention

Leeks contain organosulfur compounds.  Numerous studies have shown that these compounds play a regulatory role in enzymes that both detoxify and activate carcinogens.


In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Leeks are known for their ability to regulate qi circulation, expel cold and regulate blood circulation.

They are considered a warm herb which warms the body, activates blood circulation, reinforces the kidneys, improves appetite and moves the bowels They help relieve “yang”-deficiency issues like frequent urination and sore lower back.

External application of smashed leek root and leaves reduces inflammation, ceases bleeding and relieves pain. 


TCM recommends not overeating leeks and to avoid in breastfeeding as they can stop milk production.


Symbolism of the leek

The leek became a national symbol of Wales after the Battle of Crécy. Here Welsh archers fought against French soldiers in a field full of leeks in Northern France. On St David’s day, Welsh people started wearing a leek in their cap to remember the bravery of the archers.  

The leek’s association with St David's Day is linked to the Tudors. Tudor royal household accounts list payments for leeks in connection with St David's Day and it is believed that Henry V111 presented his daughter with a leek for the festival.

The 1985 and 1990 British one pound coins have a leek in a coronet, representing Wales. One version of the 2013 British one pound coin shows a leek with a daffodil.



Leeks can be used as you would onions, shallots or garlic.  They can be eaten raw or cooked.  Here is two of favourite ways to eat leeks.

Julia’s leek and sage pumpkin ravioli


  • 1 packet of pumpkin ravioli

  • 2 washed and sliced leeks

  • 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped sage or 1 teaspoon of dried sage

  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

  • 200mls of dairy / plant based cream

  • 1 tablespoon dairy / plant-based butter and a teaspoon of olive oil

  • ¼ chopped and toasted pecans


  • Melt butter and oil in a fry pan on medium heat.

  • Add sliced leeks. As soon as the leeks start to colour, turn down the heat down and sauté until soft.

  • Add in the sage, cream and salt and pepper to taste.  Keep the temperature exceptionally low now so the cream doesn’t reduce too much.

  • Cook your pasta according to the package.  Before draining, reserve a cup of water.

  • Add the drained pasta to the leek and cream mix in the fry pan and careful mix through.  Turn up the heat slightly to warm. Add pasta water to get desired consistency.

  • Sprinkle over pecans and parsley.



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