Lecithin, or phosphatidylcholine, is a very abundant organic substance in the membranes of plant and animal cells, especially those of nerve tissue. This essential component can be extracted from some edible substances, such as soybeans or eggs.
Specifically, all kinds of health benefits are attributed to soy lecithin. What is special about this substance? Can you really help us maintain a healthier lifestyle? How can we use it in the kitchen?
What is lecithin?
Phosphatidylcholine is a phospholipid that, together with bile salts, helps solubilize bile acids. These are important for fat transport. It is also an essential component of cell membranes.
Lecithin is an extract of this molecule, although it also contains other compounds associated with this essential component, although it is sometimes used as a synonym. Humans produce phosphatidylcholine in the liver naturally. Why, then, is your intake good?
To our knowledge, this nutrient helps protect the organs and arteries of fat accumulation and can facilitate the absorption of some vitamins of the B complex and vitamin A. It also promotes reduced levels of cholesterol and triglycerides blood. All this does not do it directly but affects the medium and long term.
Lecithin is also a source of choline, an essential nutrient for cardiovascular, brain and cell membrane functioning. It is part of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Especially positive are the results obtained with soy lecithin. The phosphatidylcholine obtained from this vegetable is easily extracted and concentrated to be sold as a food supplement or as an emulsifier in cooking.
What benefits does soy lecithin have?
There are several pieces of evidence on the power of lecithin to help improve the blood lipid profile. This means that they help reduce the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides, preventing the development of fatty liver and other heart-related problems.
On the other hand, soy lecithin contains vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant. Some athletes believe that it helps improve concentration and memory, although there is no clear evidence about it. On the other hand, there is some evidence of the role of choline in the fatigue factor: higher levels seem related to an improvement in performance, although, in reality, the mechanism that could justify this phenomenon is unknown.
On the other hand, phosphatidylcholine deficiency is clearly associated with several diseases, including cancer. The reasons are complex, but they are linked to fat transport and cell formation. Finally, as an emulsifier, lecithin seems to help the digestion of greasy foods.
This has served as an excuse for many products that claim to be able to “catch fat” from food or even help burn it faster. However, there is not a single evidence of this. In addition, we insist, our body already generates lecithin by itself, so its contribution is unnecessary, although it may be beneficial in certain specific cases.
Soy Lecithin in the kitchen
As we said, soy lecithin is an emulsifier of fats. This complement can be used to find a specific texture or flavor. The most creative can use it for more original purposes, such as creating lecithin foams. But, in addition, this substance is used to homogenize the mixtures of ingredients, especially hydrophobic and hydrophilic.
It is common to use it in sauces and accompaniments. Or, even, as an additive to different desserts, dishes, milkshakes or snacks. On the other hand, it is not necessary to take lecithin separately. We can prepare endless tasty dishes with soy, directly. Obviously, soy already has lecithin, more than enough.
This will help us increase the variety of combinations and ideas to taste, especially in summer. Soy is one of the legumes that have more possibilities when making salads or side dishes for all tastes and intentions. We insist, with natural soy, we will take all the soy lecithin we could need.
Finally, let’s be clear: it is not necessary to become obsessed with the beneficial properties of this substance. In the first place, because we almost certainly don’t need it. Second, because they can be obtained with a healthy and balanced diet. Of course, in this diet, we can include soy lecithin or, better, soy directly, and enjoy its benefits.