Soy Lecithin Benefits

Ningthoujam Sandhyarani Mar 24, 2019
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Soy lecithin is a complex fatty substance extracted from soybean oil. The most popular benefit of soy lecithin is the reduction of triglyceride and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, while increasing the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) in the body.
Soy lecithin is a food additive that acts as an emulsifier and stabilizer in many processed food products, particularly chocolates and baked foods. In baking, it is used in the dough so that it is smooth and more fluffy. Soy lecithin is a byproduct, released from the production process of soybean oil.
In large-scale production, it is manufactured from soybean by using appropriate solvents like hexane in a specific proportion. Various studies have been conducted with an objective to find different soy lecithin benefits and side effects.
While several experts agree on its benefits, there is another lot that has discovered the potential hazard of taking it in excess. Available in the form of nutritional supplements such as capsules or granules, soy lecithin is consumed by several for the number of benefits it is known to offer. Let's see the extraction process, and the benefits of the same.

How is Soy Lecithin Extracted?

Lecithin from soy is extracted by processing soybean oil. The process starts by keeping soybeans in a temperature-controlled environment with high humidity. The moisture in the environment helps loosen the hull of the soybean, thereby helping separate the bean from the hull.
The beans are then heated and made into flakes, following which soybean oil is extracted from these by means of distillation. Water is then added to the oil and the process of centrifugation or steam precipitation is used to extract lecithin from the oil.
The compound lecithin is found naturally in plant and animal tissues, out of which egg yolk and soybeans are the major sources. It is a complex fatty substance that consists of choline, triglyceride, phospholipid, glycerol, and fatty acids.
While using soy lecithin in preparation of food items, it is added in very little amounts, hardly 1% of the total weight of the processed food. If you think that you'll attain the benefits of this product simply by consuming these foods, it is not enough. Commercially, it is available in the form of powder, granules and tablets in food and drug stores.
However, these supplements should not be consumed without first consulting a doctor or a nutritionist. Moreover, one may be allergic to soy lecithin (due to the presence of traces of soy protein in the same), which is why it is important to be careful before consuming it.

Benefits of Soy Lecithin

Though it's not a mandatory supplement to be consumed for healthy function of the body, some studies shown that it has played a significant role in combating heart-related complications. As a nutritional supplement, it can be taken on a regular basis. It's proponents have put forth several benefits of this soy product, some of which have been discussed here.

Cell Protection

Soy lecithin plays an important role in protecting body cells and in controlling its shape. Being a phospholipid in nature, soy lecithin facilitates cell transportation processes that includes moving ions, fats, other nutrients, and wastes in and out of the cell. Thus, overall soy lecithin is beneficial for cell development and function.

Lowering Cholesterol

As per the manufacturers, this byproduct of soy helps reduce triglycerides and cholesterol levels. They are also of the opinion that including soy lecithin supplements in the daily diet helps in elevating good cholesterol.
It thus, minimizes the risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis. This is because of its ability to dissolve fat to a certain extent, which then fail to collect in the arteries.

Weight Loss

Choline, which is a component of soy lecithin, speeds up the metabolism of fats and similar substances. Thus, soy lecithin is promoted as an effective supplement that helps shed extra kilos. Research claims that it promotes breaking down of accumulated fats and helps lose weight.

Other Health Benefits

Another promoted health benefit of soy lecithin is that it aids healthy function of the brain and improving memory, and is particularly touted as a supplement that can prevent the risk or delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
It is also claimed that soy lecithin strengthens the liver by preventing accumulation of fats in the liver. However, there is no medical data as such, which supports usage of soy lecithin in maintaining brain and liver health.
Apart from its use in food products, it is also added as an emulsifying agent in medication. Hence, those who are allergic to soy products should carefully check the labels of drugs for any such formulations.
This way, soy lecithin benefits in keeping the body fit and free of diseases. Nevertheless, there are also reports that suggest possible side effects, particularly when the supplements are taken in higher amounts for a long period. To avoid such complications, one should analyze the pros and cons of taking this soy product beforehand.
This means monitoring the amount consumed in the form of supplements along with that found in food products. As per health experts, moderate consumption i.e. about 3g daily is safe and free of side effects. Though the amount found in food products is minimal, the no. of food products that contain soy lecithin, which you consume, should be kept under control.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical expert.
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