Desang diabetes magazine food news, making carbs count

KITLIVING

continues overleaf

British Leeks are now

in season, at their

very best until the end

of April. Leeks have

almost no sugar or fat,

have loads of fibre, vitamins and minerals

and are grown in the UK almost yearround,

though in peak season in early

springtime. The British Leek Growers'

Association are keen to point out that

there are many ways you can enjoy leeks

from a warming soup, to adding them to

stews, or stir frying them in a little olive oil

as a simple, affordable side dish. At their

best from November through to April,

British leeks are a fantastically versatile

vegetable that adds flavour and bite.

Leeks can be roasted, baked or braised

and have a sweet taste and a smooth

texture.

Leeks have been cultivated since

the time of the Ancient Egyptians and

were probably part of the diet of those

who built the pyramids. Hippocrates the

ancient Greek physician and 'father of

medicine' prescribed the leek as a cure

for nosebleeds. The Romans considered

the leek a superior vegetable and

Emperor Nero got through so many he

gained the nickname Porophagus (leek

eater); he is reported to have thought that

eating leeks would improve his singing

voice! Phoenician traders are said to have

introduced the leek to Wales when they

were trading for tin in the British Isles - an

act that would unexpectedly elevate this

humble veg to national status thousands

of years later.

Fast-forward to the present day,, in

Cambridgeshire Nick Allpress manages

a leek farm, part of a family business

that was founded by his father in 1970.

Today the farm encompasses some

1,600 acres and growing leeks is core,

farming approximately 1,000 acres of

leeks, producing 7,500 tonnes of the

vegetable annually, using his own as

well as tenanted land in Cambridgeshire,

Suffolk and Norfolk. The farm supplies

Nutrition of

leeks

Per 100g:

leeks to some of the UK's leading retailers

including Sainsburys and the Co-op

and grows a range of varieties including

Easton and Lampton for pre-packed

leeks and Belton, Harston, Megaton

Shelton, Roxton, Striker, Triton, and Volta

for loose leek sales.

Super news

And now, apparently, there's a new 'super

food' in town, as research is mounting as

to the value of the high fibre to be found

in leeks. A prebiotic called inulin may

strengthen the immune system via our gut

and help to protect us from flu and colds.

Jeannette Hyde, a registered nutritional

therapist explains, "Inulin is a prebiotic,

a fibre which acts as food for special

bacteria in the gut called bifidobacteria.

We need healthy levels of bifidobacteria

to support our immune system in winter

and ward off flu and colds. As much as

70% of the immune system is based in

the gut, where it communicates with our

gut bacteria in order to protect us."

It's important to give our gut bacteria

the food goodies they need - like inulin

- in order to thrive and in turn support

our immune system. Says Hyde, "Many

people on the Western diet of processed

foods are often short of bifidocateria

because their microbiome (the bacteria

Nick Allpress on his Cambridgeshire leek farm.

in the gut) is fibre-starved. Leeks are a

cheap and easy way to help your gut

bacteria flourish and help your health.

We often think we need to spend lots

of money on supplements, or expensive

superfoods like exotic berries flown from

far away, to strengthen the immune

system. But powerful foods can be

right on our doorstep, and are far more

affordable as well as being without the

environmental cost of air miles. I predict

in 2019 leeks will be featuring on many an

Instagram feed. Definitely mine anyway!"

Price per kilo of some 'superfoods':

Leeks - £2; Blueberries - £13; Acai

powder - £91.

www.british-leeks.co.uk

Index

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