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Main research question/goal
Leek is a product with an old-fashioned and traditional image, both in marketing and use. For some crops from this plant family such as onions and garlic, much is known about the health-promoting substances they contain. But for leek, fundamental knowledge about taste and functional ingredients is missing. This research identifies and quantifies the separate components in fresh, raw leeks from a wide range of different varieties of leek. Next we determine what effects occur for each of these components as a result of certain processes used by the food industry or at home (e.g. cooking, powdering, etc.). The aim is to gain insight into the stability or the changes in the components during processing.

Research approach
The main bioactive components in leeks are the flavonoids, organosulfides and fructans. Besides the specific quantification of these individual groups, we determine the antioxidant capacity using different antioxidant assays (ORAC, FRAP). Through a Folin-Ciocalteu analysis we analyze the total content of polyphenols. These targeted analyses are performed in function of genetic diversity, plant part, growing conditions and processing methods. Finally, we also generate a metabolite profile by using the UPLC-am-MS technique.


Leek is one of the major field vegetables in Flanders, with a cultivated area of about 3200 ha. We expect this research to provide opportunities for the diversification in the use of this vegetable and the development of novel applications. Innovation in the leek processing industry is stimulated by characterizing and quantifying the health promoting components in leek as well as knowledge of the impact of processing on these compounds. The novel knowledge generated in this project can lead to diversification within the current range of leeks based on specific cultivar selection, cultivation practice, custom and/or processing.
Effective start/end date1/10/0831/05/13

ID: 4151084