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What Is Sunflower Lecithin?

Sunflower lecithin is abundant in sunflower seeds.
An emulsifier, sunflower lecithin is used is chocolates, faux butters and baked goods.
Used as a nutritional supplement, sunflower lecithin aids in mental recall, muscle conditioning and maintaining the nervous system.
A sunflower.
Lecithin is often used as a supplement to assist in weight loss.
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  • Written By: Synthia L. Rose
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2014
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Sunflower lecithin is a type of phospholipid abundant in sunflower seeds. This fatty substance is obtained by dehydrating a sunflower seed and separating it into three parts: the oil, gum, and other solids. Lecithin comes from the gum byproduct of this mechanical process. Nutritionally, it is an emulsifier that endows foods with a creamy, moist, smooth texture. It's often used in chocolates, faux butters and baked goods, such as muffins.

Although soy was once the dominant source for lecithin in foods, the type that comes from sunflowers has become favored by those seeking an alternative due to their concerns about soy. Many people have soy allergies, and most soy is genetically modified. Some critics also complain that chemical solvents are used in the processing of soy lecithin and that traces of those solvents remain in the food. A source of phytoestrogen, soy can allegedly make some people susceptible to cancers and thyroid dysfunctions, critics claim.

In contrast, sunflower lecithin is frequently organic and natural with no genetic engineering, according to agricultural studies. There are no known allergic reactions caused by this product and few side effects of any kind. Instead of being processed with a chemical solvent, it is normally processed by cold-pressing.

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Besides using lecithin as a cooking ingredient, many people take it as a nutritional supplement. Nutritionists praise it as a beneficial source of phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylethanolamine, and phosphatidylcholine. Phosphatidylcholine is a nutrient that aids in mental recall, muscle conditioning and maintaining the nervous system. Lecithin’s greatest benefit is that it has an abundance of essential fatty acids, which are helpful to the brain.

In overall fatty acid composition, nutritionists say sunflower lecithin has virtually as much benefit as the traditional soy lecithin. Soy lecithin has slightly more palmitic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, but lecithin from sunflowers has more stearic acid and linoleic acid, which is believed to help lower cholesterol levels. They are equal in the levels of oleic acid, which is touted for its ability to reduce the risk of heart disease. Some studies boast that sunflower has more choline while soy has more of the other phosopholipid components.

Nutritionists recommend roughly 1,200 mg of lecithin daily to achieve the nerve, brain, and muscle benefits. Supplements come in liquid, granule, and powder form, and tablets are sometimes available. Many users believe that the granules are the most effective form. They are often mixed into drinks like fruit juices or skim milk.

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Discuss this Article

anon277398
Post 5

Can someone tell me where in Australia I could order sunflower lecithin granules. Many thanks, Jennie

anon231573
Post 4

"...no known allergic reactions..." My son has severe allergic reactions to this. Google "sunflower lecithin allergy" and you'll see that this is far from "allergy-free."

LisaLou
Post 3

I have always loved sunflower seeds. To me, a great salad is always topped with these seeds. I planted a row of sunflowers in my garden, hoping to harvest some of the seeds, but the birds got to most of them before I did.

I wonder if you can receive some of these same benefits by just eating the seeds, without the processing to make the lecithin. Most seeds and nuts have good nutritional benefit and it sounds like the sunflower plant and its seeds have more than I realized.

golf07
Post 2

I have read about the many benefits of using Lecithin and purchased a bottle of liquid lecithin at my local health food store. This was much cheaper than buying the capsules.

Whenever I make any kind of smoothie, shake or anything in the blender, I will pour a bit of the lecithin in there. It does not change the taste of anything, and a bottle like this will last a very long time.

I have read that lecithin is great for healthy skin and hair, and can help relieve arthritis pain. There are many other reasons for using it, but those are the reasons I was most interested in giving it a try.

andee
Post 1

It is nice to know there is an alternative to soy lecithin. Because of some recent studies regarding the use of soy, many people are looking for natural, organic alternatives.

I have taken a lecithin supplement for many years in capsule form. There are several benefits to lecithin, one being that is help emulsify fat which is always a plus. Another great benefit of taking lecithin is it is supposed to be really good for the brain.

You can find lecithin at any health food store, food co-op or just about anywhere nutritional supplements are sold.

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