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Soya Bean Lecithin as a Healthy Alternative

Updated on August 14, 2008

A Natural Emulsifier

Lecithin is a natural emulsifier. It is suitable for use in food as well as in industrial chemicals, paints, animal feedstuffs and pharmaceuticals. It is especially suited for use in food because of its unique functional and nutritional properties. Lecithin is a naturally occurring complex mixture of phospholipids which are similar to phospholipids found in living animal and vegetable cells. Lecithin is sourced from soya bean, corn, cottonseed, peanut, and sunflower. Soya bean has a lecithin content of 0.5 percent which is the most abundant source.

Amongst all natural emulsifiers, lecithin is unique for the sheer diversity of functions it can perform in the food industry, namely:

  1. It acts as a release agent reducing friction between cooked food and hot surfaces.
  2. It acts as a viscosity agent coating food particles thus again reducing friction.
  3. As an emulsifier it stabilizes oil-in-water and water-in-oil emulsions
  4. As a dispenser it improves the uniformity of fat distribution
  5. it acts as a wetting agent rapidly dispersing powders in aqueous systems
  6. A blending aids that aid in reducing mixing time of incompatible ingredients like non-polar fat and polar sugar.

Soya Beans

Effective Alternative to Saturated Fatty Acids

Lecithin has an important function in the formation and development of reduced calorie and low fat foods for the health conscious consumer - one of the most dynamic markets.

As food makers strive to reduce levels of calories, cholesterol and greasiness in food, lecithin should be used as a healthier but effective alternative to saturated fatty acids to perform the role of release agents.

Soya bean is readily available in most countries. To extract lecithin from Soya beans oil, you use a process known as degumming which involves heating the Soya bean oil, adding water, agitating and finally separating the lecithin by centrifusion

Superior Qualities

But what really makes lecithin have such superior qualities? This is due to its amphiphilic chemical composition. The surface active phospholic molecules which are main constituents of lecithin have both hydropholic water repellent and a hydrophilic water attracting parts. Because of this, lecithin is capable of emulsifying chemically incompatible ingredients like low polarity bakery shortenings and high polarity sugars. Lecithin is therefore capable of stabilizing both oil-in-water and water-in-oil emulsions.

And since lecithin is derived from natural sources like soya beans, lecithin should be ideal to health food makers where non-chemical ingredients are crucial. By using lecithin in preparation of health food, your foods will conform well to the non-chemical consumer trends throughout the planet earth.

Soya bean is readily available in most countries. To extract lecithin from Soya beans oil, you use a process known as degumming which involves heating the Soya bean oil, adding water, agitating and finally separating the lecithin by centrifusion.

Lecithin has an important role of replacing the original emulsifier which is the egg York thus significantly reducing cholesterol levels in food.

As food makers strive to reduce levels of calories, cholesterol and greasiness in food, lecithin should be used as a healthier but effective alternative to saturated fatty acids to perform the role of release agents.

Lecithin has an important function in the formation and development of reduced calorie and low fat foods for the health conscious consumer - one of the most dynamic markets.

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    • profile image

      John Jones 

      9 years ago

      In the early 1980s in college, we used to cram raw lecithin down our throats to improve our grades. My roommate had us all convinced that lecithin would improve our focus and memory and enhance our ability to test well. We ate a lot of lecithin.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 

      10 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Thanks for reminding me about lecithin. Introverts are supposed to take it and I forgot to add it to my list this week, lol.

      Marti Olsen Laney in The Introvert Advantage says, "it's very important for introverts to take the supplement lecithin - to build the neurotransmitter acetylcholine." Nancy Okerlund in the newsletter, The Introvert Energizer adds, "Acetylcholine is the key neurotransmitter - brain chemical -introverts use on our dominant blood pathway in the brain. It triggers our ability to focus and concentrate deeply for long periods. It helps us feel calm and alert. The temperament researchers say that keeping the acetylcholine level strong is is essential for introverts."

      Interesting hub...

    • Chef Jeff profile image

      Chef Jeff 

      10 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

      Dr. George Washington Carver was a genius at finding ways to get dozens and even hundreds of useful products from various kinds of food, starting of course with the peanut.

      I wonder if he ever had the chance to explore the many uses of the soybean?

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