What Is Soy Lecithin? 4 Excellent Health Benefits

Soy is a source of protein and contains all the important amino acids that are essential for your body’s health1. But what is Soy lecithin? This is what we are going to find out in this article. All the things you should know about Soy lecithin. What is it? Its benefits, side-effects, food sources, and more. So let us begin with what is soy, first.

1. What Is Soy Lecithin?

Lecithin is one of the fatty compounds rich in nutrients like choline that can be plant-based or animal-based. To protect wildlife plant-based lecithin2 is being promoted. They are extracted from sources like egg yolks for egg lecithin, soy, etc. Their extraction process includes the use of harsh chemical solvents and hence other lecithin sources such as sunflower lecithin 3are also preferred over food lecithin.

Soy lecithin used as a food additive helps in preventing food products from getting sticky and losing their flavor. The amphipathic property of Lecithin4 granules allows them to make strong oil and water emulsions. Hence, it acts as an emulsifier preventing the food products’ ingredient mixture intact.

What is Soy Lecithin
By Polina Tankilevitch/pexels. Copyright 2020

1.1. Organic Soy Lecithin

It is an extract of organic raw soybeans which is known to be a natural emulsifier. Scientifically known as Glycine max. It is used as a mild preservative in cosmetic products to improve their shelf life and have a thickening property. They are available in supplement form in the market to boost your health. It is widely used as a common ingredient in the food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries.

1.2. GMO Soy Lecithin

GMO is an acronym for Genetically Modified Organism5, the lecithin obtained by the genetically modified soy is known as GMO soy lecithin. They go under high technology to mix the genes of two or more species. These genes provide resistance against herbicides and pesticides. Due to these abilities, farmers do not need to use chemical-based environment-harming pesticides and all.

1.3. Soy Lecithin Manufacturing Process

  1. Firstly, the oil is extracted from the natural raw soy seeds using a chemical solvent such as hexane due to which portion of the oil separates.
  2. Then, this soy oil is processed, separating lecithin into gum form.
  3. Lastly, the degumming process of dehydrating the gums separates lecithin.

1.4. What are Soy Proteins?

What is Soy Lecithin
By rezkrr/unlimphotos. Copyright 2022

Soy protein is a plant-based protein and this protein fraction belongs to the globulin family that contains a seed rich in protein called legumin. Here, glycinin and beta-conglycinin6. In powder form, it contains approx. 65% of protein content. It does not get fully mixed into any liquid and tastes earthly. Soy contains all the essential amino acids and has the ability to high amount absorption. It is the only protein that is also a complete amino acid.

2. Benefits of Soy Lecithin

Let us discuss some of the benefits of consuming soy lecithin:

2.1. Source Of Choline

Lecithin is a great source of choline which is a nutrient and phosphatidylcholine. It is obtained when lecithin turns into acetylcholine that helps in transmitting the nerve impulse promoting healthy and smooth nerve function. Lack of choline might cause malfunctioning of organs, muscle damage, and fatty liver.

2.2. Helps In Controlling Cholesterol Levels

It controls the total cholesterol and reduces excess of “bad” LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and increases “good” HDL cholesterol (High-density lipoprotein) promoting heart health as this makes sure that minimum fats gather in arteries preventing heart attacks7 or any cardiovascular disease.

2.3. Protection Against Alzheimer’s Disease

Lecithin is a lipid substance that is related to sharper memory, releasing mental stress, and helping with Alzheimer’s. It promotes brain health and proper functioning by maintaining the neurotransmitter that supports healthy cognitive functions. The soy lecithin phosphatidic acid (PA) and phosphatidylserine complex (PS) control mood swings and sharp memory helping Alzheimer’s patients according to the placebo-controlled study.

2.4. Helps In Breast Feeding Issues

After delivering a child many complications, such as a clogged milk duct, may occur. In this condition, milk does not flow properly through the duct, which can be painful. Lecithin helps in curing the clogged milk duct in breastfeeding mothers. It is recommended to intake one tablespoon of soy lecithin to cure this issue but for better results and safety it would be better to consult the doctor first.

3. Side-Effects of Soy Lecithin

What is Soy Lecithin
By Adrian Swancar/unsplash. Copyright 2019

Excessive consumption can have soy lecithin side effects that must be taken care of. Sufficient soy protein residues from the extraction process may cause severe problems. Also, check for the label “organic soy lecithin” otherwise it might be processed from GM (Genetically Modified) soybeans.

3.1. Through Food supply

Dietary supplements may cause problems such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and all. It can also affect your appetite and make you lose weight.

3.2. Through Skincare Products

When comes in contact with the skin through cosmetic products it might cause rashes, itching, acne and dry skin.

4. Soy Allergy

Soy allergy is a food allergy that is caused when your immune system mistakes soy proteins as foreign invaders and creates a protection against them provoking allergic reactions. That is why it is important for the one who is soybean allergic patients to take care of ingredients in packaged foods to make sure to avoid soybean lecithin which might react adversely and cause problems.

Many allergists suggested that soy allergies can be invoked at any age, provoking allergic reactions against soy allergens. These can be of two types:

  1. Immunoglobulin E-mediated reaction
  2. Non-immunoglobulin E-mediated reaction

Most soybean-allergic individuals may encounter the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Eczema
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting

To find out whether you are vulnerable to soybean allergens8 or not, you can simply have a blood test in which only a drop size blood would be extracted from your body and react to the soy lecithin to see the effect. Another method is the skin prick test, where your skin will get exposed to the allergens and tested for their reactions.

5. Soy Products

What is Soy Lecithin
By Cats Coming/pexels. Copyright 2018

Food products that supply soy lecithin to fulfil the need of your body are:

  • Soy Lecithin Powder
  • Soybean Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Soy Milk
  • Soy Protein Powder
  • Dairy Products

6. Final Note

Soy lecithin administration claims the impact of soy lecithin benefit on Hypercholesterolemia. It suggests that foods rich in lecithin can modify cholesterol homeostasis 9and hepatic lipoprotein metabolism10. If you are one of the soy allergic consumers make sure to check the soy content in packaged food to avoid any complications. Beware of the severe reactions.

Soy lecithin is also a beneficial protein with all nine amino acids in it. So, consult your doctor for the best amount of dose your body needs and get benefits. For general health benefits, it is found to intake approx. 300 grams of soy lecithin twice a day. Still, it would be great to consult your dietician especially facing any issues or already have any allergies or conditions.

Try These Excellent Plant-Based Protein Sources With Remarkable Health Benefits
Icy Health
  1. Wu, Guoyao. “Amino acids: metabolism, functions, and nutrition.” Amino acids 37 (2009): 1-17. ↩︎
  2. Kortner, Trond M., et al. “Bile components and lecithin supplemented to plant based diets do not diminish diet related intestinal inflammation in Atlantic salmon.” BMC veterinary research 12 (2016): 1-12. ↩︎
  3. Holló, J., et al. “Sunflower lecithin and possibilities for utilization.” Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society 70 (1993): 997-1001. ↩︎
  4. Epand, R. M., et al. “Studies of synthetic peptide analogs of the amphipathic helix. Effect of charge distribution, hydrophobicity, and secondary structure on lipid association and lecithin: cholesterol acyltransferase activation.” Journal of Biological Chemistry 262.19 (1987): 9389-9396. ↩︎
  5. Ahmed, Farid E. “Detection of genetically modified organisms in foods.” TRENDS in Biotechnology 20.5 (2002): 215-223. ↩︎
  6. Thanh, Vu Huu, and Kazuo Shibasaki. “Major proteins of soybean seeds. Subunit structure of. beta.-conglycinin.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 26.3 (2002): 692-695. ↩︎
  7. Frieden, Thomas R., and Donald M. Berwick. “The “Million Hearts” initiative—preventing heart attacks and strokes.” New England Journal of Medicine 365.13 (2011): e27. ↩︎
  8. Ogawa, Tadashi, Masahiko Samoto, and Koji Takahashi. “Soybean allergens and hypoallergenic soybean products.” Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology 46.6 (2000): 271-279. ↩︎
  9. Luo, Jie, Hongyuan Yang, and Bao-Liang Song. “Mechanisms and regulation of cholesterol homeostasis.” Nature reviews Molecular cell biology 21.4 (2020): 225-245. ↩︎
  10. Santamarina-Fojo, Silvia, et al. “Hepatic lipase, lipoprotein metabolism, and atherogenesis.” Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology 24.10 (2004): 1750-1754. ↩︎

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Bhoomika Singh
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