If you are a fan of reading labels (which you should, by the way), you’ve likely come across lecithin as an ingredient in some products. Let’s see sunflower lecithin benefits and possible side effects
Lecithin is a fat-like substance essential to your body cells. It’s naturally present in your body tissues but can also be obtained from various plant and animal sources. Common plant sources include soybean and sunflower.
Lecithin is often used in processed foods and cosmetics as an emulsifier, meaning it holds together an emulsion (two liquids) without necessarily mixing them.
Think of a homemade salad dressing made of vinegar and oil. If refrigerated, the two ingredients will separate, so an emulsifier provides the stability of the two products and helps prevent the separation from happening.
Lecithin can also be used as an emollient, especially in skin products, to soothe, soften, and increase moisture levels or extend a product’s shelf life.
Lecithin offers numerous health benefits, and in today’s article, we’ll be discussing more on the health benefits of sunflower lecithin together with its potential side effects.
What is Sunflower Lecithin?
Unlike other lecithin sources, sunflower lecithin is often allergen-free, non-GMO, and plant-based. This makes it a straightforward replacement for other types like animal-based lecithin or soy lecithin, which is often made from genetically modified soy.
Sunflower lecithin is made by dehydrating sunflower seeds and separating them into three parts; solid, oil, and gum in a cold press system similar to making extra virgin olive oil. The gum part of it is lecithin.
Sunflower lecithin is sold online here.
Sunflower Lecithin and Soy Lecithin
Both sunflower and soy lecithin offer extensive health benefits; however, soy lecithin has three major concerns, one of which we’ve already mentioned (it’s genetically modified). It’s also a common allergen to most people, and soy lecithin often involves chemicals during processing.
On the other hand, most sunflower lecithin is non-GMO, organic, not a top allergen, and doesn’t involve chemicals during processing. For this reason, sunflower lecithin costs a little more, unlike soy lecithin, which is also present in most commercial products.
Health Benefits of Sunflower Lecithin
Sunflower lecithin is a great alternative to both animal sources and soy lecithin. It’s also rich in vitamins, minerals, choline, and healthy fatty acids that the body needs to function.
Here is more on what sunflower lecithin can do for you.
1. It can lower cholesterol
One of the greatest benefits of lecithins is their ability to break down fat and lower cholesterol. Studies show that taking a lecithin supplement can lower LDL cholesterol by 56 percent and total cholesterol by 42 percent.
It can also increase the good cholesterol HDL, which helps carry harmful cholesterol from the bloodstream and back to the liver. This helps clear the arteries and lower the risk of possible chronic conditions, including heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
The ability to break down fat may also increase metabolism, which promotes weight loss, making sunflower lecithin a great addition to any weight loss diet. See, How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally?
2. It can boost brain function
Sunflower lecithin is rich in choline, an essential nutrient similar to B vitamins. It regulates vital bodily functions including promoting a healthy nervous system.
Choline is often converted into acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in learning, memory, and other aspects of the brain.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that increased choline intake was associated with increased cognitive functions.
In a different study, researchers found that choline supplementation may help improve memory in older adults with memory problems.
Low choline levels have been associated with poor memory and brain disorders, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. See other Vegan Brain Booster Foods.
3. It may improve ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel (IBD) disease affecting the inner lining of the colon and rectum. It’s often characterized by inflammation and ulcers. Ulcerative colitis is a serious condition that can increase your risk of developing colon cancer.
According to research, 70 percent of the phospholipids in the intestinal mucosal lining are lecithin. They help form a protective barrier without which invasion of harmful bacteria can occur.
Given that most digestive issues involve destruction to the mucosal lining, sunflower lecithin may help restore the lining and provide the necessary protection.
Having a digestive problem like ulcerative colitis reduces your phospholipid barrier protection by 70 percent, providing an opening for harmful microbes to invade, thus increasing the risk of more serious conditions.
4. Supports skin health
If you’re looking for a natural way to improve the look and feel of your skin, consider using sunflower lecithin. This oil is derived from sunflowers and has been shown to promote healthy, gorgeous skin, especially to soothe and relieve dry and irritated skin.
Sunflower lecithin can be used in skincare products to seal in moisture and help improve the appearance of wrinkles, age spots, and other skin problems. It can also be used as a moisturizer or makeup base for more even coverage.
Additionally, lecithin is a good source of antioxidants, which help protect skin cells from damage. If you want beautiful skin that is free from harsh chemicals, then adding sunflower lecithin to your skincare regimen is a great option!
Topical applications of lecithin have also been shown to improve skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis.
5. Aid breastfeeding
Many experts recommend lecithin as a natural remedy for recurrent clogged ducts. They believe that lecithin reduces breast milk viscosity, making it less likely to clog the ducts.
If no intervention is made, clogged ducts may increase your risk of mastitis, an inflammation of the breast tissue associated with breast pain, swelling, increased local temperature, fever, and chills, often requiring a course of antibiotics for treatment.
So regular consumption of sunflower lecithin can help maintain breast health if breastfeeding.
6. Strengthens the nervous system
The nervous system is the communication network of the body and it controls everything from breathing to muscle contraction. It consists of nerves, which are cells that send signals to other cells. Lecithin is a type of molecule found in the brain and spinal cord. In fact, lecithin is a major component of the human brain and nervous system. It is a phospholipid, one of the most common types of lipids in the body. Phospholipids are essential for cell signaling and have numerous health benefits.
Studies show that lecithin can be helpful in treating conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
In a lab study, lecithin improved nerve conduction velocity (the speed at which nerve impulses travel) in rats with neuropathy, a condition that causes weakness and loss of sensation in the limbs. Lecithin also improved nerve regeneration in rats with severed spinal cords. These studies suggest that Lecithin may be beneficial for improving nerve function and repairing damage to the nervous system.
Sunflower lecithin can also help reduce inflammation, which can promote nerve health. Additionally, it can help improve blood flow to the brain and nerves, which can support nerve function.
7. May lower stress levels
If you’re like most people, you experience periods of high stress and low stress. However, there are times when the amount of stress you experience can be completely out of our control. These moments can be tough to manage, but by incorporating some simple lifestyle changes and supplements, we can help reduce the amount of stress we feel. One such supplement that has been shown to help reduce stress levels is sunflower lecithin.
Studies on lecithin and stress reduction have been conducted in both animals and humans. In one study, rats were fed lecithin supplements for six weeks. The rats’ anxiety levels were reduced, and their blood pressure was lowered. Another study showed that people who took sunflower lecithin supplements for eight weeks had fewer symptoms of stress than those who did not take the supplements.
In addition to reducing your amount of stress, lecithin has also been shown to improve cognitive performance and memory recall. So if you’re looking for an all-natural way to reduce your stress and improve mental function, consider adding sunflower lecithin into your daily routine.
8. Promotes strong bones
One of the most important factors for strong bones is having enough nutrients. One nutrient that is especially important for strong bones is lecithin. Lecithin is found in many plant-based foods, including sunflower seeds. Sunflower lecithin has been shown to promote strong bones because it helps maintain bone density and prevents bone breakdown.
Sunflower lecithin has also been shown to increase the production of new bone cells. When sunflower lecithin is added to the cultures of cells that are responsible for the growth and repair of bones, it increases the number of these cells by up to 60%. This increased production of new bone cells can help strengthen and regenerate bones damaged by injuries or disease.
9. Improves sleep quality
If you’re having trouble sleeping, you might want to consider adding sunflower lecithin to your nightly routine. Lecithin is a naturally occurring nutrient that helps the body to better absorb and utilize nutrients, including those that help us sleep soundly. Plus, it also promotes the production of serotonin, a hormone that enhances mood and happiness. Serotonin also promotes the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone that signals the body when it’s time to sleep. This hormone also regulates your wake-sleep cycle, causing you to have a healthy cycle of when to sleep and wake up.
10. Sunflower lecithin can help maintain a healthy liver.
Did you know that the liver is responsible for over 500 functions in your body? However, this means that it has to work hard to keep your entire body up and running smoothly. The good news is that there are many ways to help the liver out, and one of these is sunflower lecithin.
Sunflower lecithin is an important supplement for those who want to improve their liver health. Not only does it help to support the function of the liver, but it is also a natural source of antioxidants and phytonutrients that can protect your liver from oxidative damage.
It has also been shown to promote a healthy liver by promoting the breakdown of bad cholesterol and fighting inflammation. Additionally, sunflower lecithin helps the body absorb nutrients from food and reduces the risk of developing gallstones. If you are looking for a natural way to improve your health and protect your liver, consider incorporating sunflower lecithin into your diet.
Sunflower Lecithin Side Effects
While this form of lecithin is generally safe, there are some potential side effects that you should be aware of. These include:
Sunflower lecithin may cause allergic reactions in some people. Symptoms include skin irritation, itching, and swelling around the mouth and lips. If you have a known allergy to sunflowers, avoid its lecithin altogether.
If you’re not sure about sunflower lecithin-containing products on your skin, consider performing a patch test. To do a patch test, apply a small amount of the product to a small area of skin on your arm. Then, wait 24 hours to see if there is any redness, swelling, or irritation. If there is no reaction after 24 hours, you should be safe to use the product on your face.
For oral use, start with a small dose and increase gradually to see how your body reacts. If you experience any allergic symptoms, discontinue use immediately and consult your doctor.
Sunflower lecithin may cause some gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea, cramping, or bloating. If you experience any of these symptoms after taking this supplement, stop using it immediately. These symptoms usually go away after some time, but if they persist, consider getting checked by your doctor.
Interactions with medications:
Sunflower lecithin may interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners or cholesterol-lowering drugs. If you are taking any medications, talk to your doctor before taking sunflower lecithin to ensure it is safe for you.
Additionally, pregnant or nursing women should not take sunflower lecithin without medical advice.
In general, sunflower lecithin is safe for most people when taken in moderate amounts. However, as with any supplement, it’s important to be aware of the potential side effects before taking it. If you experience any adverse reactions after taking sunflower lecithin, discontinue use and see your doctor immediately.
How much Sunflower Lecithin Should You Take?
Sunflower lecithin is often a capsule form supplement, powder, liquid extract, or lecithin granules.
Although there is no official recommended dose, most manufacturers recommend taking 2400 milligrams per day if taking capsules. This can be split into divided doses that should be taken with food. If using other forms, daily, 1-1/2 tablespoons of sunflower lecithin extract, powder, or granules are recommended.
Ensure you maintain your daily intake to less than 5000 to avoid common side effects like abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, and nausea. Other than this, sunflower lecithin is generally safe to consume.
Lecithin is a fatty substance naturally found in the body and foods like soy, sunflower, egg yolk, and other animal products.
While all lecithin can offer health benefits, sunflower lecithin is the most healthy and equally beneficial. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and other important compounds needed in the body. It’s also the only guaranteed lecithin source that is non-GMO with a very low allergen record.
Regular consumption of sunflower lecithin may boost brain function, aid breast health, promote healthy skin, improve digestive health, and lower cholesterol.
All these forms can offer potential benefits, so the form you should consume comes down to personal preference.
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