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Soy Lecithin: What Benefits and Uses?

by Naturopathes de La Boite à Grains 05 Jun 2024
La Lécithine de Soya: Quels Bienfaits et Quelles Utilisations? - La Boite à Grains

It is often found at the end of ingredient lists and is consumed without really knowing why. Soy lecithin is a food and food grade supplement that deserves to be better known. It has many benefits that can relieve symptoms at different stages of life.

Find out what to do with soy lecithin.

What is soy lecithin?

Lecithin is a type of fat from the phospholipid family that is naturally present in every cell of the body. Cell membranes (outer envelopes of cells) are mainly composed of lecithin. Lecithin is therefore a fat that is present everywhere in the body, but the brain, muscles and nerves contain the greatest amount.

Lecithin's primary role is to emulsify, that is, to suspend fats to prevent them from mixing with other substances. It is also a moisturizer. Lecithin helps fats interact with other substances, including proteins and carbohydrates, which allows many metabolic functions to take place every second of our lives. 1,2

Lecithin is also found in many foods including eggs, sunflower and soybeans. Soy lecithin is the most common form of lecithin on the market and is a fat extracted from the soybean. When taken as a supplement or food, soy lecithin helps the body perform certain metabolic functions. 2

Some roles of lecithin

Lecithin is naturally present in the body in such large quantities because it has many important roles. In fact, this is why soy lecithin supplementation manages to support the body in so many varied roles, including:

  • Prevention of arthrosclerosis;
  • Protection against certain cardiovascular diseases ;
  • Stabilization of cholesterol levels ;
  • Improvement and support of cognitive functions;
  • Improving the absorption of certain nutrients (B vitamins and vitamin A) ;
  • The support of energy levels ;
  • Repair of liver damage caused by substance abuse ;
  • Preventing the formation of gallstones;
  • Prevention of milk duct blockages in nursing mothers;
  • Improvement of digestive functions in people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) 1,2,3

Who should take soy lecithin?

With very few warnings or side effects, most people can benefit from taking and/or supplementing with soy lecithin. More specifically, daily intake of soy lecithin is recommended for :

People with memory problems

Soy lecithin is rich in choline, a type of vitamin B that is known to improve memory and cognitive function. Some researchers believe that the consumption of soy lecithin could slow down the progression of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's. In addition, since choline allows for better inter-cerebral communication, anyone experiencing memory loss due to stress, hormonal changes, lack of sleep or any other life factor can benefit from the memory support benefits of lecithin. As a preventative measure, seniors should take a daily lecithin supplement. 1,4

People at risk for gallstone formation

Lecithin helps dissolve cholesterol, an important component of gallstones. Soy lecithin supplementation combined with a healthy diet, a healthy weight and certain digestive supplements helps prevent the formation of gallstones and their disintegration. 2

Anyone at risk of developing cardiovascular disease

Clinical studies have shown that soy lecithin is beneficial for people suffering from certain cardiovascular disorders such as arthrosclerosis and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol). To stabilize cholesterol levels, soy lecithin must be taken with meals, which limits the amount of cholesterol absorbed through the diet. People who supplement with soy lecithin have lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides than those who do not take it, while having a healthier level of good cholesterol (HDL). It is thanks to this process that the arteries are protected against the accumulation of fat and the formation of arterial plaque by the action of soy lecithin. 1

The population with specific digestive disorders of the intestine

In people with ulcerative colitis, soy lecithin is particularly recommended because of its emulsifying properties. This ability to interact with fats allows lecithin to improve the intestinal mucosa and protect the intestinal wall. People with inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may also benefit from soy lecithin to ease digestive problems. 5

How do I take soy lecithin?

The lecithin granules are readily available in health food stores. You will find them refrigerated like any other good fat that needs to be protected from oxidation. For this reason, it is recommended to keep lecithin in the refrigerator after purchase in order to maintain the stability of its good fats and prevent oxidation. Rancid lecithin will have an unpleasant taste and should be discarded. The recommended daily dose is 2 tablespoons per day. It can be sprinkled on yogurt, cereals, smoothies or oatmeal. Some people prefer to dilute lecithin in a glass of juice or incorporate it into home recipes.

Soy lecithin is also available in capsules. Unlike other types of natural health products, lipid supplements are encapsulated in a capsule to ensure absorption and assimilation. In order to maximize its shelf life and benefits, soy lecithin in capsules should also be kept refrigerated, especially after opening.

Memory support, improved energy levels, prevention of cardiovascular disease and more! Lecithin's many functions make it a nutrient that promotes overall health. That's why we believe that anyone who wants to support their overall health should introduce non-GMO soy lecithin to their diet today!

Good health!
The team at La Boite à Grains
_______________________

Research and writing :
Véronique Cousineau, certified naturopath

Sources:

  1. Phyllis, a. Balch, CNC. (2010). Prescription for nutritional healing, Fifth Edition (p. 88). Penguin Group publishers.
  2. Michael, T. M, ND. Joseph Pizzorno, ND. (2012) The encyclopedia of natural medicine. Third edition (p. 608). Atria Paperback.
  3. La Leche League International. Breastfeeding. Mastitis.
  1. Poly, Coreyann et al. "The relation of dietary choline to cognitive performance and white-matter hyperintensity in the Framingham Offspring Cohort." The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 94,6 (2011): 1584-91. doi:10.3945/ajcn.110.008938
  2. Stremmel W, Gauss A: Lecithin as a Therapeutic Agent in Ulcerative Colitis. Dig Dis
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