Harmful or Harmless: Soy Lecithin

Soy Lecithin

Soy lecithin is found in many processed foods and acts as an antioxidant and flavor protector, as well as an emulsifier or lubricant.

Ice cream, dairy products, dietary supplements, infant formulas, seed oil spreads, bread, and many other convenience foods contain varying amounts of soy lecithin. Despite concerns that soy lecithin may not be safe for human consumption, both the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives and the Scientific Committee on Food have confirmed that it is a perfectly safe food additive.

What is Soy Lecithin?

Lecithin is obtained from many different natural products, including eggs, legumes, red meat, and sea foods. Soy lecithin is sourced from soyabean oil. The raw soybeans are first dried, dehulled, and then baked in ovens.

After extracting the oil from the cooked beans, it is mixed with water. The lecithin is extracted from the solution using a chemical solvent. The resulting product is free from soy proteins that may cause allergic reactions.

Whilst there are concerns about the presence of harmful or toxic chemicals in soy lecithin, only a very small amount of soy lecithin ends up in your food. In almost all cases, the quantity of lecithin is less than 1%.

Soy Allergies

Being part of the legume family, soybeans do produce allergic reactions in many people. However, as soy lecithin contains trace levels of soy protein, some people may experience allergic reactions if they are particularly sensitive to soy.

The amounts of soy protein in standard soy lecithin are found to be between 232 and 1338 mg/kg (2). In phosphatidylcholine-enriched soy lecithin, the amount of soy protein is found to be so small as to be in the undetectable range up to 163 mg/kg.

It is naturally best to avoid soy products and food that has soy as an ingredient if one is allergic to it. However, the amounts of the allergenic protein found in soy lecithin are so small as to be a much-reduced risk to anyone who is susceptible to soy allergies.

GMO Soy Risk is Low

Genetically modified soy is widely available and, as such, the soy lecithin used in the preparation of food products is likely from a GMO source.

Unless the lecithin is specifically identified as GMO-free or organic, then it is safe to assume its GMO origin.

However, since the quantity of soy protein in soy lecithin supplements is either very small or undetectable, the risks associated with ingesting genetically modified material are greatly reduced. In a study designed to assess the quantity of genetically modified ingredients in margarine, researchers found it impossible to isolate the genes as the DNA was so degraded as to be impossible to assess.

It can be deduced from this that the overall risk of consuming soy lecithin is low.

Therapeutic Uses of Soy Lecithin

So, what does lecithin do?

Soy lecithin is increasingly found in health supplements that are promoted based on lecithin’s ability to positively influence blood lipid composition, treat neurological issues, and reduce inflammation.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of phosphatidylserine (PS) from soy lecithin as a supplementary source of PS for humans. They have found that there is evidence of benefits to brain function in those who increase their daily intake of lecithin.

Lecithin has also been found to reduce inflammation in those who take supplemental amounts on a daily basis.

Lecithin’s benefits for men are far-reaching, as males are more likely to suffer from heart-related health problems than women. For those suffering from heart disease and especially atherosclerosis, lecithin contributes to a significant reduction in HDL cholesterol, which leads to improved health outcomes.

Contact National Lecithin Today

For more information and a detailed review on how quality soy lecithin can improve your products, contact National Lecithin at (973) 940-8920.