To those who have always had a keen eye on the food labels, soy lecithin as content has always had a mention on the ingredient list. Being one of the top 10 most used ingredients in packaged foods, Soy lecithin has been talked about to a considerable amount.
For once and for all, we bring to you all the information that you need to know about this particular component.
What is it?
Lecithin are substances that occur naturally in plants as well as animal sources (eggs) Since lecithin has a higher choline content (a nutrient important for maintaining liver function, normal brain development, nerve function, supporting energy levels, maintaining a healthy metabolism), lecithin is used as a supplement itself.
However, in certain food products, it is used as an additive for enhancing purposes. This means, it is used to bind the contents in a product well together so that they do not separate when in use.
Soy lecithin possesses emulsification ability and hence is used in several products as an emulsifier or an enhancer. Soy lecithin is a by-product of soybean oil production and is extracted mechanically or chemically using hexane.
Are there any cons of using soy lecithin?
People with severe soy allergies or those with endocrine or thyroid dysfunction who want to play it safe may avoid it altogether. However, any kinds of allergic reactions, hormonal interference or digestive problems may only arise when taken in excess amounts, which is unlikely with it being used as an additive.
To be on the safer side, it is ideal to follow a balanced diet pattern by eating more of fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats and eggs and reducing the consumption of packaged/ processed foods.
The benefits, though:
Soy lecithin is also marketed as a nutritional supplement due to its choline content. Other ways that Soy lecithin helps in nutritionally is:
- It promotes weight loss
- Lowers cholesterol
- Improves brain function
- Maintains a healthy liver
Alternatives to Soy lecithin:
Most people with soy allergies need not worry about soy lecithin being added as an additive to a product as it is derived from soyabean oil while the allergy results from soy protein. However, if you are one of those who are allergic to soy or just want to go for other options, here are some alternatives that you can work with:
- Sunflower lecithin
- PGPR (polyglycerol polyricinoleate) a castor oil derived emulsion.
- Egg lecithin (from yolk)
- Cocoa butter
- Canolaseed lecithin
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