Lecithin is a naturally occurring food ingredient that is gotten from foodstuff and bought as a dietary supplement. It belongs to compounds known as phospholipids. Therefore, it is not just a single substance but a group of fatty ingredients from animal and plant tissues.
So, is lecithin bad for you?
The short answer to this question is no. In fact, lecithin might do you more good than you ever thought.
In a nutshell, lecithin is used to treat liver disease, high cholesterol, gallbladder disease, certain types of depression, anxiety, and other vital organs. They also treat memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Read on to know more about this amazing ingredient that you rarely hear about — from where to find it to the different types that exist in today’s market.
Where Can You Find Lecithin?
Lecithin can come from dietary supplements, dairy products, ice cream, margarine, infant formulas, bread, green vegetables, red meat, eggs, and other convenience foods. So, you are probably already consuming Lecithin, whether you realize it or not. The good news is that they usually occur in small amounts; it is not something to make you worried. Lecithin is taken as a supplement and used in the manufacture of skin moisturizers, eye drops, and food emulsifiers- these are agents that keep ingredients from separating.
What are the Different Types of Lecithin?
Not all Lecithin is the same. They come in different popular varieties. Lecithin supplements come from eggs, sunflower seeds, or soybeans. So far, soy is the most used product to create lecithin supplements. The different types of Lecithin include:
Soy lecithin is a popular food additive derived from soybeans. It is often used as a lubricant or emulsifier. When used in food, it acts as a flavor protector and an antioxidant. So, if you are wondering if the product contains soy, the answer is yes. The extraction process for the product starts by first extracting the oil using a chemical solvent like hexane. Then, the oil goes through a process known as degumming before Lecithin is separated and dried.
The final product of soy lecithin only contains small amounts of soy proteins. For that reason, researchers believe soy lecithin cannot provoke any allergic reaction in the consumers. In addition, the soybean allergens found in protein fractions get eliminated during the soy lecithin manufacturing process.
Once (28 grams) of soybean lecithin contains the following nutritional content:
- 98 milligrams choline
- 51.5 micrograms vitamin K (64 percent DV)
- 214 calories
- 2.3 milligrams vitamin E (11 percent DV)
- 28 grams fat
- 1,438 milligrams omega-3 fatty acids
- 11,250 milligrams omega-6 fatty acids
Soy lecithin supplements usually are more popular than any other type. The main reason is that soy lecithin supplements have a complex mixture of phospholipids that form part of the cellular membrane structure. They usually store energy.
Sunflower lecithin is increasingly becoming popular mainly because of the requirement to declare allergens in foods.
In addition, individuals who wish to distance themselves from genetically modified crops can choose sunflower lecithin. Sunflower lecithin includes choline and other essential fatty acids such as phosphatidylinositol.
While sunflower lecithin is just an empty additive, evidence shows it has several health benefits like baking.
For example, when making cookies, sunflower lecithin is used to help in holding cookies together and keeping them soft and delicious.
Using sunflower lecithin supplements or emulsifiers is a better alternative to both soy and egg lecithin. It is because sunflower lecithin is vegan, non-GMO, non-allergenic, and requires gentler extraction procedures without harmful chemicals.
Sunflower lecithin mainly contains the following nutrients:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Omega-6 fatty acids
The extraction process of sunflower lecithin is relatively gentler and by cold pressing rather than using chemical solvents.
First, the product is made by dehydrating a sunflower and separating it into three different parts. Next, the Lecithin gets extracted from the gum. The final stage involves processing it through the cold press system like the one used to make olive oil.
Lecithin granules are natural sources of inositol and choline, two essential nutrients linked with vitamin B. vitamin B plays a key role in fat metabolism.
The product includes granules with a pleasant mild nutty taste. Lecithin granules come from 100% natural soy extract. The product is free from wheat, yeast, dairy, nuts, and shellfish.
Lecithin granules can easily be added to soups, sprinkled on cereals, or used in cooking where a thicker is useful. The granules are suitable for:
- Vegetarians and vegans
- All children aged four years and over plus adults
- During pregnancy or breastfeeding
What Are the Benefits of Lecithin?
The most cited benefits of Lecithin include:
- Cholesterol reduction: Research shows that food rich in Lecithin may lower bad high-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol. Lecithin supplements have also been tested and promised to lower cholesterol.
- Improved immune function: Eating foods rich in Lecithin or supplementing with soy lecithin for many occasions proved to enhance immune function. People with diabetes have majorly benefited from the product. The ingredients are also known to increase the number of natural killer cells called lymphocytes in animals. Lymphocytes are crucial to the immune system.
- Better digestion: Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) common to many people, especially in the US. With proper utilization, Lecithin may help in reducing digestive distress in people suffering from the condition.
- As a breastfeeding aid: Some breastfeeding women may experience clogged milk ducts. During the situation, milk does not flow correctly through the vent. The state is often painful and may make breastfeeding more difficult. Breastfeeding experts have severally recommended Lecithin as a solution for preventing recurrent plugged ducts. However, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, ensure to use the right dosing of Lecithin.
- Improves heart health: Soy lecithin enhances cardiovascular health. Individuals who are vulnerable to heart disease or high blood pressure can get the product.
What Are the Possible Side Effects of Using Lecithin?
Lecithin is safe for most people. However, for those who may be allergic for whatever reason, the common side effects of using Lecithin include:
- Abdominal bloating
- Increased salivation
- Abdominal pain
- Decreased appetite
There are several techniques to utilize Lecithin in your diet, like adding to foods while cooking, taking supplements, baking, or adding to smoothies or shakes. Soy and sunflower lecithin is available in liquid, powder, pills, and granular form. If you need the best type of Lecithin for baking, reach out to trusted lecithin suppliers for commercial and industrial businesses like National Lecithin. Such suppliers ensure that the lecithin product you procure is top quality.
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