Lecithin: what is it?
What is lecithin? Translated from the Greek word lecithin means "yolk" and in the modern interpretation is a by-product of the refining of vegetable oils. This substance is often used in industry because of its properties. You can find a mention of it on a chocolate wrapper called E322 supplements or in dietary supplements. In addition, in nature, this ether is found in almost all plant and animal tissues.
Lecithin in the composition of the product enriches it, providing the body with important elements of metabolism. For food containing various types of lecithin, read our articles What kind of milk is better and What chocolate is made of.
The composition of lecithin
This complex substance includes several components.
- phosphoric acid.
All these elements are necessary for the human body. In a broad sense, lecithin is a cholesterol antagonist, and therefore helps reduce the level of the latter. You can learn more about this by reading our article How to get rid of cholesterol.
Useful properties of lecithin
For the body, lecithin is extremely important as it affects the functioning of the body. It is the substance filling the extracellular space, serves as a building material for the tissues of the liver, ensures the normal functioning of the nervous system. Thanks to lecithin and its antioxidant properties, the body gets rid of free radicals and other toxins.
In addition, this substance belongs to the category of surface-active, that is, it easily interacts with two unrelated substances. This useful property is widely used in the manufacture of products that require the "binding" of fats and water, which, as is well known, very weakly interact with each other. Such substances are also called emulsifiers, because they create durable, homogeneous emulsions.
Sources of Natural Lecithin
Lecithin is rich in foods high in fat: vegetable and animal oils, meat, fish, etc. For example, the daily rate for an adult is about five grams of lecithin. This amount is contained in just 2 chicken eggs.
The main benefit is lecithin derived from productshave not been subjected to genetic treatment, therefore, special certificates have been adopted worldwide for the standardization of the quality of a substance. Information on this can be found on the packaging of goods.
Sources of Commercial Lecithin
On an industrial scale, the substance is obtained by hydration of by-products obtained in the production of soy flour and sunflower oil.
This type of product is obtained from purified soybean oil. Processing takes place at a reduced temperature, so lecithin is obtained in the manufacture of cold-pressed oils. The composition of such lecithin includes useful fatty acids, vitamin A and phospholipids, it is this substance that is most often used in the food industry as an emulsifier.
Lecithin is extracted from sunflower oil. This product has antioxidant properties. But its constituent fatty acids, which differ from those contained in soybeans, and vitamin E have a beneficial effect on the condition of the hair, nails and skin of humans, and therefore are often used in cosmetic products.
In the food industry, the substance is used very widely. It is used in the manufacture of:
- pasta and bakery products;
- chocolate and chocolate coating:
- soy milk and other products.
Lecithins are used in pharmacology and in the manufacture of dietary supplements. They are one of the main active substances of hepatoprotectors.
In cosmetology, in the production of creams, lecithin is added as a natural antioxidant.