The word lecithin comes from the Greek "Lekigos" which means "yolk" because it was first isolated from egg yolk. Its discoverer was Maurice Gobley in 1850. Lecithinis a fatty substance group of yellow-brown color. Its membership consists mainly of choline, glycerol fatty acids, and phospholipids.
Lecithin is in the cells of animals and plants, as well as egg yolk. In animals it appears throughout their whole body but is more evident in brain cells, nerve tissue and white blood cells. Lecithin provides elasticity to cell membranes and protects them from the destructive effects of the free radicals.
Lecithin facilitates the flow of nutrients into cells. Good levels of this component, ensure that the heart, the liver or brain can work properly.
In animal foods, eggs and liver are high in lecithin. Within the plant world, the main plants that contain this component are seeds. Among them, we have the seeds of the following plants in order of quantity: Brazil nuts contain the highest amount, the seeds of opium, soy, black lentils, flax seeds, peanuts, courgette seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds.
Another plant that contains much lecithin is dandelion, which flowers are very rich in this component. Dandelion seeds exceed opium seeds. The fruits of the strawberry would be located before sesame. Cereals or nuts are quite rich in this component.
Sometimes, when we speak of lecithin, we simply refer to phosphatidylcholine one of the major phospholipid lecithin. Lecithin or oil extracted from seeds, mainly from soybean seeds, as shown in the picture - or sunflower. Note the grainy look of it.
Industrial properties of lecithin?
When Gobley isolated lecithin from egg yolk considered it the substance that was able to mix oil with water. This is possible thanks to the emulsifying properties of this compound. Emulsifier is considered any substance that allows emulsions, that's to say a homogeneous mixing of two substances that by themselves could not mix, like water and oil.
The properties of lecithin are exploited in the food industry to make food products in which the components can be mixed to form a homogeneous mass. Thus, lecithin appears in the formula of many products made by the food industry, such as chocolate , ice cream, cakes, processed cheeses, prepared salads, sweets, etc. Lecithin is also used in food industry as a stabilizer and as an antioxidant.
Healing properties of soy lecithin?
Soy lecithin is the one primarily used as a food supplement. Although no conclusive evidence on whether taking this supplement, some studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of soy lecithin in the treatment and prevention of some anomalies.
- An ally of hearth health: Soybean lecithin supplements are very interesting for people's health. Cholesterol can not dissolve in normal conditions and sticks to the walls of the arteries, eventually produces the same hardening (atherosclerosis) and the increase of the arterial tension (hypertension). Soy Lecithin is rich in phospholipids (phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylinositol and phosphatidic acid).
These components allow to emulsify, that's to say, mix, fat body with water, thus enhancing its removal. All this means that the intake of soy lecithin is adequate to prevent the formation of cholesterol and other lipids that become more liquid and are not attached to the arteries. The use of soy lecithin promotes circulation and prevents blood clots in the arteries, which prevents heart attacks and other circulatory diseases.
- A supplement that generates a high amount of choline: Choline is considered a member of vitamin B. Choline comes from the degradation of phosphatidylcholine. By eating soy lecithin the body transforms it into choline. It is believed that the ingestion of soy lecithin may be desirable in the following cases:
- Gallstones: It has been shown that low levels of phosphatidylcholine can cause gallstones, because this organ needs lecithin or phosphatidylcholine to metabolize fats. Taking lecithin supplements may help prevent gallstones. (A couple of teaspoons of lecithin per day)
- Aid to improve liver health: The use of lecithin is very interesting for the prevention or treatment of many diseases of the liver. This component, to be able to metabolize fats, prevents these are deposited in the liver. Thus prevents the occurrence of fatty liver disease. At the same time, transports lipids from the liver to cells and enhances their penetration into them. All of this metabolic process drags a high amount of toxins which is a liver cleanse. It has been shown that lecithin helps the liver to prevent or treat a variety of diseases that can affect you as cirrhosis, hepatitis, liver cancer or the degradation of the liver caused by toxins. It has been proven to be quite effective in cancer patients because it helps them to eliminate accumulated toxins in chemotherapy. (A couple of teaspoons of lecithin per day)
- It helps to prevent Alzheimer: Lecithin might be useful in preventing the development of Alzheimer although there is no conclusive evidence on this issue. It is also thought that could help to improve memory .
- A supplement rich in vitamin E: Lecithin contains lots of vitamin E. This vitamin is one of the most powerful antioxidants , capable of counteracting the negative effects of free radicals on the circulatory health of the mind or vision.
Soy lecithin may be a regular supplement in our daily diet. A teaspoon in yogurt for breakfast is very easy to take and provides many healing properties
How to take soy lecithin?
Lecithin is sold as capsules, ampoules or as granules. The usual dose of lecithin in capsules or blisters usually about 2200 mg a day divided into two doses with meals. The equivalent of this dosage is a couple of tablespoons in the form of granules comprises one at breakfast and another meal. This is sprinkled over the plate, add to yogurt or orange juice.
Soy lecithin is not a food but as a supplement to be taken in moderation. Consider that a mere teaspoon of this supplement provides 34 Kcal derived from fat content (4.5 g approximately). Fortunately the largest proportion of these are polyunsaturated and therefore is very beneficial for health. One tablespoon provides over half of the dose of vitamin C.
There is desirable not to overcome the dose of a couple of tablespoons a day, because in this case, it could be harmful.
Toxicity of lecithin
In usual doses, there have been no cases of toxicity. In high doses, it commonly cause adverse reactions with onset of abdominal bellyache, diarrhea, sweating or vomiting.
Because no sufficient studies have been performed, it should not be given to pregnant women or infants. Similarly, in case of illness or medication, consult your doctor if you should take this supplement.