By Mercedes Leguizamon

With their long white stalk and flat green leaves, leeks are often confused for their aesthetically similar cousin, the scallion. Although they resemble each other, leeks are different in size, function and have a sweeter taste. Originating from Central Asia, leeks can be used in salads or eaten raw. You can even use them in recipes for eggs or potato soup!

There are many beliefs about the benefits of leeks, and some of them go beyond the typical health concerns. It was once believed that if a woman put a leek under her pillow on St. David’s Day, she would dream of her future husband. And if you wanted to improve your singing voice, all you needed to do was add some leeks to your daily diet. While these may be myths, we can tell you that they help strengthen the body. One cup of leeks can provide a huge amount of potassium — 160 milligrams! According to FoodFacts.com, eating leeks during pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects in newborns. Even if you are not pregnant, leeks can be a beneficial addition to your diet. They can convert antioxidants to allicin, which is known to reduce cholesterol, prevent cardiovascular attacks and keep the common cold at bay, according to Allicinfacts.com.

Whether blended in a smoothie or stirred into a soup, leeks are a healthy and flavorful addition to any meal.