More and more, we tend to use organic products of plant origin as a complement to our diet. This is the case of the sunflower lecithin and other variants that we also find in soybeans.
Although this substance is present in the cell membranes of animals, including humans, the intake of this element can have beneficial properties for our body, according to several kinds of research.
In this article, we want to analyze what exactly sunflower lecithin is and the advantages of taking it, with a scientific review of different trials.
What is sunflower lecithin?
Lecithin is an organic substance present in animals and some vegetables, including sunflower, rapeseed, and soybeans. It is formed by a set of fatty acids which currently have medical properties.
These advantages are based, among others, on the presence of phosphatidylcholine (PC), as the main source of choline. Scientific studies have shown how blood levels of choline are intimately related to the choline neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a key component for optimal nerve transmission.
Other types of lecithin
This compound is part of the nervous tissue of animals, although we also find other sources such as soy, eggs, milk, marine sources, rapeseed, sunflower, and cotton.
One function of lecithin is its use as an emulsifier, used to separate fats and oils and reduce their mixing with other compounds. Actually, we can acquire lecithin and sunflower supplements and other sources to treat various ailments, the main one being to reduce high cholesterol.
Properties of sunflower lecithin
Lecithin describes a substance found naturally in the tissues of your body. It is composed of fatty acids and has a variety of commercial and medical uses.
Lecithin works as an emulsifier, which means it suspends fats and oils and prevents them from mixing with other substances.
Lecithin supplements can be purchased to help treat high cholesterol, as a breastfeeding aid, and to treat ulcerative colitis, among other things.
1. May lower cholesterol
One of the main uses given today to soy lecithin is to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) indirectly based on increasing the profile of good LDL cholesterol.
Scientific research has obtained good results with the contents of isoflavones, lecithins, saponins, and fiber of many vegetables, such as soybeans and sunflowers, with an improvement in markers of cardiovascular health. [See study]
However, they also agree that more research is needed to replicate these benefits in different situations and dosages.
2. Offer benefits to nursing mothers
According to recommendations from the Canadian breastfeeding foundation, sunflower lecithin and other sources of this compound offer preventive advantages in the obstruction of the breast ducts, in breastfeeding babies.
The keys to this claim are based on the fact that lecithin helps reduce the viscosity of milk by increasing the volume of polyunsaturated fatty acids in milk. For this, it is recommended to take tablets of 1200 mg, 4 times a day, during the lactation season.
However, the results are positive as a preventive, but it does not help if we already have the problem.
You may be interested in our article about Granola: advantages and disadvantages of its consumption
3. Promotes cardiovascular health
Related to cholesterol, lipid profile, and increased fiber, sunflower and soy lecithin, mainly those of plant origin, are a source of health to reduce cardiovascular risk factors.
The increase in the diet of products rich in fiber favors the delay in digestion since there is an important part of indigestible fiber. It favors intestinal transit and increases the feeling of filling the stomach with less quantity.
4. Promotes digestion
Sunflower lecithin has proven to be a great therapeutic agent in ulcerative colitis. This is because phosphatidylcholine accounts for more than 70% of the total phospholipids within the intestinal mucus layer and establishes a hydrophobic barrier that prevents an invasion of the microbiota of the colon.
With digestive problems such as ulcerative colitis, intestinal mucus production was reduced by about 70%.
Therefore, a diet rich in lecithin favors the continuous production of this protective barrier and reduces inflammatory processes derived from digestive diseases.
Read more: lecithin as a therapeutic agent in ulcerative colitis.
5. It has positive implications for dementia
Choline is a major compound in the nervous tissue of animals. Scientific trials have attempted to analyze the relationship of dietary choline to cognitive performance and hyperintensity.
In summary, to analyze the role of sunflower lecithin as a prevention against degenerative diseases such as senile dementia or Alzheimer’s.
The study was conducted on 1391 subjects with no history (744 women and 647 men), where patients taking choline on their diet increased verbal memory (VM), visual memory (VsM), verbal learning, and executive function. [See study]
Therefore, research on the benefits of lecithin is favorable and higher choline intake is related to better cognitive performance in healthy patients.
You may be interested in our article about the Advantages and disadvantages of using Maltitol
6. Use as a skin moisturizer
Many gels, body creams, and skin care products contain sunflower lecithin and other vegetables. The concept that we can find within the description of the ingredients is that of hydrogenated lecithin.
Currently, there is not much scientific information that supports an improvement in the epidermis, reduction of acne, or healing of eczema with products rich in lecithin. Its benefits are related to the presence of vitamin E to reduce premature aging of the skin and cellular oxidation.
Other sources claim that it provides an increase in the concentration of collagen, which helps reduce the presence of wrinkles.
The benefits of sunflower lecithin and other plant compounds can be introduced through the diet. It is the easiest and safest way, in addition to increasing the content of fiber, vegetable proteins, and other benefits.
However, we can also increase the choline concentration and phosphatidylcholine with dietary supplements, such as the following.
- Suggested Use: 2 capsules daily with food.
- Sunflower lecithin 2.4 g (2,400 mg), phosphatidylcholine 420 mg. Other Ingredients Gelatin capsule (gelatin, water, glycerin) and organic extra virgin olive oil. It is not made with ingredients of yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, milk, egg, fish, shellfish, or nuts, so the risk of allergic reactions is very low.
Cases of allergic reactions have been documented in products containing lecithin, but not because of this compound, but because of the presence of derivatives. Soy allergy is quite common.
If you take supplements based on this compound, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends not to exceed a concentration higher than 5,000 mg daily.
Different associations have shown the advantages of consuming this compound during the lactation period. Lecithin is a natural compound itself present in breast milk. There are no known contraindications for women, and it is recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).