Soy lecithin has emerged as one of the most popular food additives worldwide. It’s found in thousands of products, from chocolate and cooking spray to meat and bread. It is also available in supplement form. Its advocacies claim that it benefits the brain, heart, liver, and muscles.
The question: how healthy is soy lecithin? Are there any side effects to be aware of? Let’s find out!
Soy Lecithin at a Glance
This common food ingredient has lubricant and emulsification properties. It acts as a stabilizing agent, controls sugar crystallization, and reduces viscosity. It contains a mixture of soybean oil, sterols, carbohydrates, phosphatidylcholine, inositol phosphatides, and other compounds.
Despite being highly processed, soy lecithin is considered safe. However, this claim is subject to debate. The soy used in this ingredient comes from genetically modified crops, so its effects on human health are not fully understood.
Manufacturers use soy lecithin due to its low price. For instance, soy lecithin reduces egg and fat requirements in baked goods. It also increases shelf life, protects yeast cells in dough, and keeps cocoa butter in candy bars from separating. Some people consume it for cholesterol reduction. Unfortunately, the risks often outweigh the benefits.
The Side Effects of Soy Lecithin
Numerous studies conducted over the years indicate that soy lecithin may not be as safe as it was once thought. Despite its cholesterol-lowering properties, it carries potential side effects that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
First of all, soy is a common allergen. Even though most allergens are removed during manufacturing, you may still experience adverse reactions.
Secondly, the phytic acid in soy depletes your body of zinc, iron, magnesium, and other minerals. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Thirdly, evidence shows that soy lecithin boasts estrogen-like properties. As a result, it disrupts thyroid and endocrine function, causing hormonal imbalances.
Furthermore, the GMOs in soy lecithin can affect your health for the long term. These compounds may alter the gut flora, DNA, and metabolism. Plus, lecithin is extracted from soybeans using harsh chemical solvents.
It’s not unusual to experience stomach pain, nausea, bloating, and skin rashes after eating foods that contain this ingredient. These side effects affect most people to some extent. Other studies claim that soy lecithin is actually good for the brain, heart, and liver.
As you see, there’s a lot of controversy surrounding this food additive. Even though it’s unlikely to cause major issues, use it with caution. Eggs, olive oil, nutritional yeast, and other lecithin alternatives are much healthier.