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What is Soy Lecithin?

What is soy lecithin ?

Lecithin is a fat that is important for the body’s cells. It is available in many food items such as egg yolks and soybeans.

Soy lecithin benefits include its use in the manufacture of medicines and to treat various disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, liver disease, eczema, high cholesterol, gallbladder disease, anxiety and some types of depression.

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Soy lecithin is prepared by hydrating soybeans at a fixed moisture level and temperature for around ten days. Then they are cleaned and made into tiny pieces after separating from hulls. They are then pressed to produce flakes which further undergo a distillation process. This produces crude soy oil which is then ‘degummed’ to get a sludge-like material. This sludge is then purified by the hexane extraction process to get soy lecithin.

History of Soy Lecithin

The word ‘lecithin’ is derived from the Greek word lekithos, which literally means egg yolk. In 1805, a French scientist by the name of Maurice Gobley noticed a fat like substance while conducting experiments on egg yolk. This fat-like substance that was extracted by him was then named as lecithin by him. He discovered that lecithin had qualities analogous to those of an emulsifier. Since then eggs had been the main source for commercial form of lecithin.

In the 1930s, it was discovered that one could also extract soy lecithin from the byproduct obtained during the processing of soybeans. AS of today, there is not much distinction between soy lecithin and egg lecithin.

Soy Lecithin benefits

  • There are a number of soy lecithin benefits. It can be used in the treatment of various medical ailments such as eczema, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, gallbladder disease, bipolar disorder and anxiety, liver disease, dry skin, a fatty liver that results from intravenous feeding and for the lowering of cholesterol.
  • The stabilizing and emulsifying properties of soy lecithin are inculcated in dietary supplements as well as when it is used as a medication or food additive. When it is used as a food addictive, it prevents the ingredients of the packaged food from separating.
  • There is some weak evidence to support the fact that soy lecithin consumption helps one to lose weight and also to increase the production of semen in men.
  • A lot of people apply soy lecithin on the skin as a moisturizer.
  • Some eye medications use soy lecithin to assist the medicine in maintaining the contact with the cornea of the eye.

Side effects of Soy Lecithin

  • Soy lecithin has very few side effects. However, excessive intake of soy lecithin can result in some side effects such as abdominal fullness or pain, nausea and diarrhea.
  • Individuals who are allergic to soy must always consult a doctor before consuming soy lecithin products; else it can result in serious side effects. In case one experiences symptoms such as hives or rashes, swelling of the throat, lips and mouth, breathing problems, wheezing and itching after soy lecithin intake, then he/she must immediately seek emergency medical care.

Soy Lecithin-Nutritional information

  • Soy lecithin has a blend of many different compounds like triglycerides, fatty acids, phospholipids and carbohydrates.
  • It also contains choline which facilitates the production of an essential brain chemical called acetylcholine, by the body.
  • Omega-6 fatty acids are greater in number than omega-3 fatty acids in soy lecithin.
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