Lecithin describes a substance that’s naturally found in the tissues of your body. It’s made up of fatty acids, and it has a variety of commercial and medical uses.
Lecithin works as an emulsifier, meaning it suspends fats and oils and keeps them from mixing with other substances.
Lecithin supplements can be purchased to help treat high cholesterol, as a breastfeeding aid, and to treat ulcerative colitis, among other things.
Lecithin supplements are usually derived from sunflower seeds, eggs, or soybeans. Soy is by far the ingredient most commonly used to create lecithin supplements. Animal fats, fish, and corn are also sometimes used.
While soybean lecithin tends to come in granulated capsule form, you can buy sunflower lecithin in both powder and liquid form, too. Sunflower lecithin isn’t as common, but some people prefer it, especially if they’re trying to avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their food.
While soybeans are sometimes genetically modified in mass production, sunflower seeds aren’t. The process of extraction is also gentler for sunflower lecithin. Extracting lecithin from the sunflower seeds doesn’t require harsh chemicals.
The most well-known benefit of lecithin is its ability to lower cholesterol. Researchers have discovered that soybean lecithin can contribute to raising HDL (good) cholesterol and lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol in blood profiles.
Soy protein provides an extra boost for people using it to treat cholesterol because of other components that soy offers.
Lecithin that comes from soy can improve cardiovascular health, especially if you’re already at risk of developing high blood pressure or heart disease. This is according to a small study in which participants were given soy products including lecithin additives.
Since soy is complicated to digest, it takes your body longer to break soy products down. For some people, this works to make them feel more full after consuming it.
Some breastfeeding experts recommend lecithin as a solution for preventing recurrent plugged ducts. The Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation recommends a dose of 1,200 milligrams, four times per day, to experience this benefit.
They speculate that lecithin may decrease the viscosity of your breast milk, making it less likely to clog milk ducts in your breast.
This isn’t meant to be a treatment for plugged ducts, however. Treat ducts with:
- application of warm compresses
- extra pumping, if needed
- draining the breast well
- asking a lactation consultant for more suggestions
Report any fever or flu-like feelings to your doctor.
Learn about lecithin, including its potential health benefits.
7 Amazing Benefits of Sunflower Lecithin
by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated – January 28, 2020 ✓ Evidence Based
The use of sunflower lecithin has become very popular in recent years as more and more is being discovered about its potential health applications.
What is Sunflower Lecithin?
Sunflower lecithin is actually a general term for various fatty substances that can be extracted from sunflowers. Lecithin can come from a number of different sources, but sunflower seeds are one of the most popular. Sunflower lecithin is a collection of different phospholipids, and while many people think of fats as bad things, many phospholipids are extremely important for our health. In sunflower lecithin, for example, there are numerous phospholipid types and antioxidants , along with other volatile compounds that make it a healthy supplement.
What many people fail to realize is that some types of lecithin are present in every single cell of our body, and help to protect the integrity of our cell membranes. Sunflower lecithin is a natural emulsifier, which can help it reduce the presence of other fats, as well as protect your red blood cells. Some of the most important phospholipids found in sunflower lecithin include choline, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylinositol, and phosphatidylethanolamine. One of the best aspects of sunflower lecithin, unlike soy lecithin, is that it can be extracted naturally, without the addition of chemicals, making it highly desirable in health circles.
Lecithin gel capsules Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Sunflower Lecithin Benefits
Sunflower lecithin has a good impact on liver and heart health and inflammation. It is also good for brain health, blood pressure , the nervous system, and cardiovascular health, among others.
As an emulsifier, sunflower lecithin is able to balance the fat levels in your bloodstream , which can help to boost heart health. This can lower your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes, which protects your long-term heart health.
Some of the key phospholipids that make up this lecithin have been connected to brain health and the repair processes that are needed by neural cells. Regular supplementation with this lecithin can speed the process of neural regeneration and will protect the nervous system.
When the liver is overworked or is handling a large amount of excess fat, it can exacerbate many other health problems. With enough lecithin in your system, the chances of this happening are greatly reduced, since it can reduce the amount of excess fat in your bloodstream.
When the blood has too much fat in it, the arteries are likely to thicken as that fat deposits on the walls. When the arteries tighten, blood pressure increases, putting more strain on the cardiovascular system. With this lecithin in your diet, you can lower your risk of these heart problems.
Boost the Immune System
Research has found that this phospholipid substance is able to speed the healing process and stimulate the immune system, largely due to its antioxidant effects, thanks to phosphatidylinositol and phosphatidylethanolamine.
One of the other effects of sunflower lecithin is the lubrication of joints and the reduction in inflammation around the body, which can make you feel younger and remain active as you age.
The main alternative to sunflower lecithin is soy lecithin, which can elevate estrogen levels and cause various issues, particularly in males using this supplement. With the sunflower variety, you can keep your hormonal levels in the right place.
How to Use Sunflower Lecithin?
Sunflower lecithin is primarily found as a dietary supplement ingredient in protein powders since a deficiency in lecithin can have many negative effects on overall health. However, you can also find sunflower lecithin in cosmetic products and in certain foods. This form of lecithin typically comes in the form of a dehydrated powder, so it is commonly added to health shakes and smoothies. It also makes a great replacement for butter or other oils in your cooking. It adds a smooth and creamy texture to any recipe that you want to boost with a bit more health.
Difference Between Sunflower Lecithin & Soy Lecithin
Sunflower lecithin is a combination of phospholipids that are extracted from sunflower seeds in a mechanical and chemical-free process, making it very pure. It is also high in choline (phosphatidylcholine), while soy lecithin has a slightly different composition. Soy lecithin, on the other hand, requires chemicals to extract from soybeans, but that also comes with a higher level of estrogen, which can cause hormonal problems in the body. The fact that soybeans are often genetically engineered also raises some concerns about soy lecithin; for that reason, the sunflower variety remains extremely popular and trusted.
Sunflower Lecithin Side Effects
Aside from the benefits, there are some possible side effects, such as gastrointestinal issues, allergic reactions, and considerations for pregnant and breastfeeding women. By adding such a concentrated source of phospholipids to the diet, it can cause a negative reaction in the gut, including diarrhea, inflammation or constipation. Moderate use should help to avoid this, however. Those who are allergic to sunflowers should avoid this type of supplement, as should pregnant and breastfeeding women, due to the estrogen levels and the effects this lecithin can have on hormone levels.
Sunflower lecithin includes choline, phosphatidylcholine, & phosphatidylinositol. Sunflower lecithin has a good impact on liver & heart health & inflammation. Read more!