Lecithin is a fatty component of animal and vegetable origin, which is extracted from the membranes of the nervous tissues of these species. Lecithin of animal origin is in foods such as milk, liver, marine foods and eggs. The one of vegetal origin is in the grains, vegetables and oilseeds, being the most recognized the one of soybean and the one of sunflower.
One of the main properties given to this substance is that of being a catalyst for fats to mix with others that are difficult to integrate. Due to this power, lecithin is used in the food and pharmaceutical industries. It is also one of the main sources for converting fat into energy, it serves as a diuretic, as a natural antioxidant and helps regulate cholesterol in the body.
Lecithin occurs naturally in the liver. However, it can also be found in some foods. Currently, soy lecithin has become very popular, as it helps to lose weight and control fats in the body.
This acts as an emulsifier, that is, it prevents fat from accumulating or depositing in one place. It is not only beneficial for those who want to lose weight, but also for those who have high cholesterol or are at risk due to the amount of fat they have in their organs and arteries.
In addition, some specialists indicate that lecithin also helps improve memory, orientation, learning and concentration. For this reason, it is believed by many to be beneficial in treating Alzheimer’s disease or other psychological illnesses such as bipolar disorder.
Soy lecithin is a natural additive recognized as an important source of phosphoric acid. It is obtained from soybean oil to be used in the food industry, such as manufacturers of bakeries, margarines, butter, cookies, chocolate, ice cream and meat processors in which they are in greatest demand.
This additive was isolated for the first time in 1952, being among its main utilities the improvement in patients with cardiovascular disorders, the nervous system and brain injuries. Likewise, it is attributed the reduction of cholesterol in the blood and the elimination of fat in the organs that are more difficult to suppress such as the liver, heart, and kidneys. In addition, it is also an excellent supplier of vitamin E, B, and phosphorus.
Soy lecithin with zinc
This product can be obtained as a dietary supplement, commonly used to take advantage of the benefits of these two substances. The already recognized properties of soy lecithin include those from zinc, which is ideal for strengthening the body’s immune system and improving skin healing processes.
In addition to this, it is highly recommended for those who are dieting, since zinc helps in the process of metabolizing carbohydrates, therefore losing weight quickly.
Sunflower lecithin is a vegetable fat extracted from the seeds of this plant and is recognized as a source of fatty acids. In the market for fatty products, it is recognized as a natural alternative to the consumption of fats from soybeans, since the seed of the latter has been adulterated to obtain greater economic profitability. In contrast, there is no sunflower seed that has been modified.
This product is widely used in the food industry in many ways, but above all it is widely used in baked goods. It is also used in pastries, ice cream, cereals, snacks, drinks, food supplements and more.
Sunflower lecithin is found naturally in our body, but sometimes its levels are too low to obtain its full benefits. The main benefits identified for sunflower lecithin are related to the improvement of certain diseases, for example, arteriosclerosis, as it controls cholesterol in the blood. For this same condition, it helps control gallstones.
As it is a component that helps break down fat, it prevents this substance from accumulating in the body’s organs, mainly the liver and arteries. For this reason, it is recommended for people who are overweight or at risk. It is also good for development, memory and learning, which is why many specialists have suggested using it to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
What foods contain lecithin?
As we mentioned earlier, lecithin occurs naturally in our body, specifically in the liver. However, it is possible to find it in some foods and in this way increase our levels of this supplement. Some foods that have lecithin are:
- Turkey or chicken liver.
- Low-fat meat.
- Brussels sprouts.
- Black beans or lima beans.
- Soy milk
- Soy oil.
- Flax seeds.
- Low fat yogurt.
- Queso cottage.
What does lecithin do in the body?
Lecithin can also be found as a food supplement. It is widely used due to the wide variety of benefits and nutrients it provides, including: large amount of B vitamins, vitamin E, inositol, healthy fats for the body, and choline.
The reason behind its popularity in supplement form is that it helps lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. That is, it improves the levels of lipids in the blood. But the most important thing is that it helps to eliminate fat from the most complex organs, which is why it is very useful in overweight people who need this function quickly.
On the other hand, the high levels of vitamin E it has are necessary for the protection of the body, especially cells, since it acts as an antioxidant, and improves concentration and memory.
As we mentioned earlier, this complex occurs naturally in the body. Therefore, it is not a harmful substance if it is consumed naturally through food. However, if you decide to consume lecithin as a supplement, there may be some contraindications, although minimal.
In the case of soy lecithin, which is the most consumed, it is contraindicated for pregnant or lactating women.
It is also not recommended for people who are sensitive or allergic to soy and its derivative products, as it could trigger an unwanted reaction. In case of consumption and symptoms of intoxication begin to appear, it should be directed quickly to a hospital.
Lecithin side effects
Although lecithin does not have many contraindications, it is always advisable to consult a doctor before using any supplement to prevent side effects. If its consumption is abused, symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, dizziness or diarrhea may occur.
Although these cases are very rare, you should see a doctor as soon as possible, as symptoms of lecithin intolerance or signs of an overdose may be possible.
In case of consuming supplements to accompany a nutritional regimen, it is necessary that it be supervised and previously indicated by a health professional, since it will be this who indicates the correct form and the amount to consume for each person.
Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.