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
Lecithin is a common ingredient in most skin care products, especially to soothe and relieve dry and irritated skin.
Its emollient properties also promote well hydrated and soft skin.
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.
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.
Sunflower lecithin is available as a supplement in a capsule or as a powder, liquid, extract, or granules,
All these forms can offer potential benefits, so the form you should consume comes down to personal preference.
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