Soy lecithin is a soybean derivative , which is one of the 10 most used additives in the food industry. It is lent many virtues (anti-cholesterol, good for the skin, for the brain, but also beneficial for the liver or mood), and that’s why it is found in our diet, in certain drugs and in many dietary supplements.
We present you the benefits of this soy lecithin but also the controversies it arouses!
What is soy lecithin?
Soy lecithin is one of the lecithins that are lipid substances found naturally in many products. At the base, it was discovered in eggs, and more precisely in egg yolk , which earned him this name. Indeed, in Greek, lekithos means egg yolk.
It is also very present in foods of plant origin, such as soybean oil and peanut oil. To obtain this soy lecithin, soya beans are used with which soybean oil is produced. This oil, once cold-pressed and decanted, produces two products: soybean oil and soy lecithin. The latter has the code E322 , which you will find easily on many labels of processed food products, food supplements or drugs.
It is an oily substance found in foods of plant and animal origin and is considered a by-product of soybean oil . If it is one of the 10 products most frequently added to the composition of processed foods, it is because it has several specific properties that we detail you.
The composition of soy lecithin
The use of soy lecithin is mainly due to its composition , comprising three major elements: phospholipids, Choline and Inositol.
It is a set of glycerol , phosphates and fatty acids that provide the body with essential nutrients for its proper functioning. Very important for the brain, these different elements have a vital role for the cell membranes of the brain, since they represent about ¼ of its weight. These phospholipids act both on the memory , avoiding transient memory problems, and on their texture, offering the cells flexibility and permeability to the membranes.
This element is a neuromediator that improves the functioning of the nervous system, but also that of the liver, heart and brain. It has a powerful detoxifying role, it regulates the functioning of the kidneys and dissolves fat. It is therefore logically found in the composition of many food supplements.
It is a recognized element to act against bad cholesterol (and therefore to promote good cholesterol). Inositol is also very important in the functioning of cells, since it improves their development and activity.
Known for its powerful antioxidant action , Vitamin E will help slow the premature aging of cells. Ideal for keeping young skin and delaying potential hair loss.
Thanks to this composition, lecithin of soy offers a global action beneficial for the organism. As we will see later, its properties are many and varied and they explain why we find so frequently this component E322 on products that we use in everyday life.
The properties of soy lecithin
Soy lecithin can be very beneficial to health because it has a varied field of action . But it also has properties that give it a primary importance in food.
Soya lecithin and diet
When used in food products, soy lecithin acts as an emulsifier and stabilizer . It prevents the water and fat of the food from dissolving. Its dosage, in the composition of different foods, does not exceed 1%.
It is present in chocolate (which it helps to solidify), in ice cream or margarine in particular, and it also makes it possible to extend the shelf life of the foods in which it is present.
A recognized antioxidant
Thanks to the choline it contains, it helps fight premature cell aging . It is found in many food supplements, including those that can fight against hair loss or products that promote beautiful skin without wrinkles.
A positive action on memory
Soy lecithin promotes the proper functioning of brain functions , including memory. With its high content of phospholipids, it will stimulate the brain and help maintain responsive cognitive functions, while avoiding transient memory disorders.
Anti stress and anti fatigue
Its supply of essential nutrients (such as glycerol, phosphate or the various fatty acids it contains) make soy lecithin a valuable ally during a phase of fatigue or great stress. It helps to have the energy necessary for the proper functioning of the body, it helps maintain a good psycho-nervous balance while improving mood and promoting concentration.
Good for our cells
Soy lecithin protects the cells , promoting the good circulation of oxygen within them.
A powerful anti-cholesterol
Thanks to its phospholipids, soy lecithin will prevent fats from being deposited in the walls of blood vessels . It is its high content of linolenic and linoleic acids (polyunsaturated fatty acids) that give it this protective action against bad cholesterol.
A detox agent
Considered a detox agent for the liver and fats, this soy lecithin has a beneficial effect on the body, which it will purge. As part of a slimming diet, it is an interesting ally.
Where is soy lecithin?
Soya lecithin is present in:
- Many food products processed , it helps to solidify. They include chocolate, butter, margarine, peanut butter, ice cream …
- In the world of cosmetics : it is present in many baby creams, skin products such as foundation, body milks …
- The pharmaceutical industry , with many drugs and dietary supplements that include it in their composition
- In certain food supplements for athletes , in powder form, it will help to make more homogeneous once mixed
- In certain culinary preparations . In the kitchen, it has an interesting aspect when it is used in powder, since it makes it possible to offer a more dense texture to the preparations.
As can be seen, this soy lecithin (or this E322) is everywhere. Its benefits to the body are numerous and recognized, but it is also an element that presents some risks that it is good to know. In addition, soy lecithin is surrounded by many controversies.
What are the benefits of this food additive?
As we have seen so far, this natural food additive seems very beneficial for health. We will detail its major benefits for the organization, before listing the risks it entails.
The first known virtue of soy lecithin is its benefits to our brain . Our brain works with neurotransmitters, which send signals to neurons that allow us to act and think.
Thanks to the choline it contains, soy lecithin will help synthesize acetylcholine, which is one of the main neurotransmitters. On the one hand, it will increase the amount of this element in the brain, and this will generate a better concentration and promote nerve transmissions between neurons. In fact, you will be more focused and your memory will be more effective ! In particular, it is used in treatments against Alzheimer’s disease.
On the other hand, the E322 will provide the brain with the nutrients it needs to function well. Your brain activity will be boosted, and your cognitive function will be better.
The action of soy lecithin on the skin is also recognized. It will help smooth your skin, make it softer while preventing premature aging. It acts against the formation of wrinkles, and helps cell renewal. That’s why we find this agent E322 in many cosmetic products, such as creams or gels (which it promotes the creamy texture) and in many dietary supplements for the skin.
Soy lecithin is also beneficial for the liver , with the ability to reduce hepatic cell inflammation. It helps to prevent cirrhosis, and to strengthen the liver. This helps an individual protect themselves against toxins, which will be more easily eliminated with a healthy liver. This detoxifying action also has an important role in those who follow a slimming cure, and it accumulates with an interesting fat burning action.
This natural food additive is also good for the heart and for good blood circulation. First, it is its anti-cholesterol action that will help maintain healthy arteries. As a result, blood and oxygen circulate better, which promotes good heart health.
Then, it is the emulsifying action of soy lecithin that will be beneficial for the heart. It will easily break down fats that tend to accumulate within your blood vessels and therefore eliminate them much more easily. A good way to avoid the formation of blood clots!
Recommended for staying healthy, with effects on the brain, memory, a slimming action and powerful detox and complete protection of cells, soy lecithin however has some risks. Here they are.
Risks of soy lecithin
If soy is a natural food, you need to know that more than half of the world’s soybean crops contain GMOs . This leads to side effects and potential health risks for those who consume too much.
A maximum daily dose of soy lecithin of 3.5 grams per day is recommended . Beyond that, the following side effects are to be noted:
- Low blood pressure that can cause falls or fainting
- Erectile disorders
- Hormonal disturbances
- Gastrointestinal problem
Note that as food allergen, soy and soy lecithin derived from it can cause reactions such as: rashes, itching, gastric disorders or even respiratory disorders up to seizures. violent asthma or wheezing.
Soy lecithin is strongly discouraged from infants and younger children.
Let’s finish with one of the most controversial elements regarding soy lecithin: the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest . In Brazil, soybean cultivation has led to the clearing of more than 80 million hectares of land, which is just over 2016 for more than 8,000 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest.
An ecological disaster whose systematic consumption of soy lecithin is largely responsible.
Between versatility and controversy: what about soy lecithin?
So soy lecithin is a nutrient that is found everywhere, since it is part of the composition of products that we eat, that we apply on the body, with which we care or with which we follow well-being courses.
If its 100% natural version is safe, with moderate consumption, we deplore the harmful effects of lecithin soy GMO. Pesticides and genetic modifications cause side effects that can be dangerous and so it is best to favor BIO soy lecithin, or another listed superfood with similar virtues! Moreover, we can only deplore the negative environmental impact of soybean cultivation!