What is LECITHIN?
FROM SUNFLOWERS - A HEALTH-ENHANCING SUPPLEMENT
Anti-inflammatory and Regulation of Lipids
Lecithins from plants such as sunflowers are mainly phospholipids (PL), which are a core part of our cell membranes. Dietary lecithin has been known to have beneficial effects on metabolism since the 1900s. Research has demonstrated that lecithin supplementation is beneficial on blood plasma and liver lipoprotein and cholesterol regulation, particularly in those with hyperlipidaemia (i). Phospholipids including plant lecithins have been used in the treatment of viral hepatitis and alcohol-induced liver damage (ii). Research is ongoing in exploring the full potential of lecithins in alleviating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD – a pathology largely caused by sugar and fructose overconsumption), treating metabolic syndrome and obesity (iii, iv). Lecithins have been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory properties (iv). We chose to avoid soy lecithin because soy is an allergen for some, and we are concerned about the lack of sustainability within soybean agriculture.
What about taste?
Smooth and Uniform Texture
Lecithin is often used in chocolates as it is a great emulsifier (helps to create a nice, consistent texture), although soy lecithin is often chosen as it is cheaper. To create a smooth and delicate texture in our chocolates, we use sunflower lecithin, which does not have the aforementioned issues of soybean, is never genetically modified and includes beneficial effects of phospholipids. Some chocolatiers market themselves by having few ingredients and exclude lecithin. As explained above, sunflower lecithin has numerous health benefits and is even taken alone as a supplement. Do you feel that having a chocolate bar with ‘few ingredients’ is relevant from a health perspective, when one of the main ingredients (usually half the weight of the bar) is sugar? At NOMOSU, we care about what the ingredients are, more than how many there are.
(i) Kullenberg, D. et al. (2012), ‘Health effects of dietary phospholipids’, Lipids Health Dis 11, 3
(ii) Gundermann, K. et al. (2011), ’ Activity of essential phospholipids (EPL) from soybean in liver diseases’, Pharmacological Reports, 63, pp. 643-659
(iii) Mastellone, I. et al. (2000), ‘Dietary soybean phosphatidylcholines lower lipidemia: mechanisms at the levels of intestine, endothelial cell, and hepato-biliary axis’, J. Nutr. Biochem., 11, pp. 461-466
(iv) Robert, C. et al. (2020), ‘Vegetable lecithins: A review of their compositional diversity, impact on lipid metabolism and potential in cardiometabolic disease prevention’, Biochimie, 169, pp. 121-132