Lecithin is a generic term designated to a variety of naturally occurring fatty compounds found in plant and animal tissues. Its was first isolated by French chemist Theodore Gobley in 1846 during the mid-19th century. It is composed of glycerol, glycolipids, phosphoric acid, triglycerides, fatty acids, phospholipids, and choline. It is a compound that was originally extracted from egg yolk but is nowadays extracted from milk, sunflower, marine sources, soybeans, milk, rapeseed, and cottonseed.
Soy lecithin is extracted from raw soybeans. Hexane, a chemical solvent, is first used to extract the oil which is then processed through a process known as degumming which facilitates the separation and drying of the lecithin.
28 grams of soybean lecithin has the following nutritional content:
- 2.3 milligrams of vitamin E.
- 51 micrograms of vitamin K.
- 214 calories.
- 98 milligrams choline.
- 28 grams of fat.
- 1,438 milligrams omega-3 fatty acids.
- 11, 250 milligrams omega-6 fatty acids.
Application of soybean lecithin
- It is used as an emulsifier.
- It is used as a wetting agent.
- It is used for viscosity reduction.
- It is used as a release agent.
- It is used in crystallization control.
- It is used as an antioxidant.
- It is applied to protect flavour.
Benefits of using soybean lecithin.
- It helps to improve cholesterol levels. A 2010 study published in the journal Cholesterol suggests that properties of lecithin can reduce the excess of LDL cholesterol.
- It helps the body deal with physical and mental stress. A study published in the Danish journal stress suggests that specific properties in soy lecithin may have a stress dampening effect which then concludes that they may be used in the natural treatment of stress-related disorders.
- It may help improve cognitive function. Findings from a three-month double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in Advances in therapy suggests that soy lecithin-derived phosphatidylserine and phosphatidic acid may have a positive influence on memory, cognition and mood among the elderly and those suffering from cognitive conditions.
- It may help boost immunity. Soy lecithin supplementation has been shown to significantly boost immune function among diabetic rats and this suggests that it can also help to boost immunity in humans.
- It helps reduces the risk of osteoporosis (a disease where bone-weakening increases the risk of a broken bone). Research in this area is mixed. However, the studies indicate that soybean and soy-based products including soy lecithin act as anti-resorptive and bone enhancing agents in preventing osteoporosis.
- It helps relieve menopause symptoms. Findings from a 2018 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study including 96 women between the ages of 40-60 suggest that so-lecithin supplements may help to improve menopause symptoms by improving vigour and blood pressure levels in menopausal women.
- It may help prevent cancer. A study that was published in the journal Epidemiology found that there may be a reduced risk of breast cancer associated with lecithin supplement use.