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LECITHIN : A Powerful Nutrient Against Cholesterol

Updated on February 6, 2013

LECITHIN : Powerful Nutrient Against Cholesterol

Lecithin is a complex mixture of phospholipids or phosphatides with soybean oil as a solvent or carrier. It contains glycerol, fatty acids, phosphoric acid, ethanolomine, choline , inositol and various other substances in small amounts. Phosphatides differ from fats in that they contain phosphorous and nitrogen in addition to the constituents of simple fats.

In human beings, lecithin is concentrated in the more important parts of the body such as the brain, reproductive organs, liver, kidneys and the heart. Its presence in these organs is now leading to extensive medical research on its role in human metabolism and the part it plays in the prevention and cure of functional disorders.

Lecithin appears to owe its physiologic action to a number of factors, such as its emulsifying properties, its ability to be incorporated into all vital body tissues, its part in fat absorption, its role in the transport of lipids in the blood stream, and its function in fat metabolism in the liver. Lecithin appears to enhance fat metabolism and lipid transport. As a phosphatide, lecithin is an important substance of the blood lipoproteins. These phosphatides in the blood are essential stabilizing agents of the fats. Since blood plasma is an aqueous medium, the normally water-insoluble fats are maintained in clear solution by the emulsifying action of the phosphatides.

The leading cause of death throughout the modern world is coronary artery disease and the presence of hypertension and its effects on the blood vessels of the brain, the heart, the kidneys and other vascular structures of the body. Excessive cholesterol and lipids in human blood are now acknowledged to be directly associated with increased incidence of arteriosclerosis and the biochemical manifestation of astherosclerosis(hardening of the arteries).

Atherosclerosis, with its emphasis in the heart, brain and kidneys through coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, nephrosclerosis respectively is now widely accepted to be a metabolic disorder centered about abnormalities in serum lipids and lipoproteins. Modern treatment of the clinical manifestations of atherosclerosis such as coronary artery disease associated with hypercholesterolemia and hyperlipemia has centered on the attempt to reduce serum cholesterol and lipids to normal levels.

Dietary reduction of fat intake has been the most widely employed method of lowering serum lipid levels in patients suffering from hypercholesterolemia and hyperlipemia.Since this has been a difficult task for many patients, various cholesterol lowering agents have been proposed such as thyroid extract, heparin, lipotropic substances, tissue extracts, nicotinic acid preparations , beta-sitosterol and sex hormones. These preparations have not been widely accepted by physicians due to the length of time required for their application which range over a number of years. Thus, a lipid-reducing agent which could be incorporated in the diet as a natural food product would be important both in the treatment and prevention of excessive blood fats associated with atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries,

Dr. Lester M. Morrison, who is the Senior Attending Physician and Director of a research unit at Los Angeles County General Hospital , has found a food product in soybean lecithin and writing in “GERIATRICS” stated the following :

“Soybean lecithin was administered under strict control conditions to a series of patients with hypercholesterolemia. These patients had been treated with low-fat diet and various other cholesterol-lowering agents for a period ranging from one to ten years with unsuccessful results. Effective and statistically significant reduction in serum cholesterol level occurred in the majority of patients treated with lecithin. “

Since then, many of these patients have now been on lecithin therapy for at least five years with continuing favorable outcome.



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