"We are born to be fit, strong, and healthy." Robb Wolf

August 10, 2011

Soy Lecithin

How often do you read the nutrition labels of your food? Well, it shouldn't be too often because real food shouldn't come with labels or packaging. Unless you are buying meat from the grocery store.

If you do purchase foods with labels, always take a few seconds to read the ingredients and read the macronutrient breakdown. To refresh your memory, macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

That being said... How many of you enjoy chocolate? My hand goes up when asked that question. The chocolate I consume contains no less than 80% cocoa. There are several reasons for that. The 2 main reasons for me is that there is a lot less added sugar and little to no soy lecithin.

So what exactly is soy lecithin?

Let's start off by determining what a lecithin is. A lecithin is an oily substance that occurs naturally in products like eggs yolks and soybeans. In the biochemistry world, it is the main lipid (a greasy substance insoluble in water) in the cell membranes of the human body. Since it is mainly a fat, it adheres to the cells and nerves of the body preventing cholesterol and other fats from sticking to them causing disease. Lecithin is high in choline, a micronutrient, that helps support the healthy development of the heart and brain. Other benefits of lecithin can be found here.

Soy lecithin is extracted from the soybean. We have to realize that the soybean is one of the most contaminated crops. The lecithin is the sludge left over after the soy oil goes through a "degumming" process. It is then bleached and solvents are used to give it a better colour, decrease its odour, and make it less bitter. If the soybean is not organic, then the lecithin may contain the harmful pesticides that were sprayed on the crops. And let's not forget to mention genetic modification. The soybean is one of the most genetically modified products out there. Who knows how safe it is. Once extracted it is used as an emulsifier. An emulsifier is a substance that allows for two complete unmixable substances to be combined. It is commonly used in chocolate to combine cocoa and cocoa butter. It is also used in ice cream, peanut butter, coffee creamers, infant formula, margarine as an "anti-spattering" agent, and in baking to make the dough less sticky and rise more.

Even though soy is used in a great number of products, it is usually than 1% or less of the weight of any food.

Most people that have an allergy to soy don't really have to worry about soy lecithin because most soy allergies come from the soy protein. But still exercise caution when consuming products with soy lecithin because not all soy proteins are destroyed.

Most soy lecithin used in manufacturing is not fermented. This means that all of the enzyme inhibitors are present. If these inhibitors are present, then our own natural enzymes get blocked from breaking down foods. These partially undigested foods cause gastrointestinal distress and disease.

Some of the most common side effects of consuming soy lecithin include:
  • bloating, gas, diarrhea
  • fluctuations in weight
  • decreased appetite
  • skin rashes
  • nausea, vomiting, dizziness, confusion
  • low blood pressure
  • blurred vision and occasional fainting
So before you reach for that next chocolate bar, read the package and think twice.