Lecithin, a product used in commercial cooking and sold as a natural supplement, is sometimes added to milkshakes and smoothies. It may be used in powdered form as well as in granules. Regardless of whether you take lecithin powder or lecithin granules, always consult your health care provider before adding this supplement to your meal plan.
Lecithin, a substance that resembles fat, resides in the cells of every living thing. Commercial food producers isolate lecithin from egg yolks and soybeans to use as an emulsifying agent or a compound that helps mix two substances together, such as oil and vinegar, that do not combine easily. Some take it as a natural treatment to help ward off Alzheimer disease, lower cholesterol or lose weight. No clinical evidence exists, however, to confirm the use of lecithin for these medical problems.
Powder Versus Granules
You can purchase lecithin to take as a health supplement in pill form as well as a powder or granules. Many people use commercially available lecithin powder or granules primarily derived from soybeans to mix into milkshakes or smoothies. Soy lecithin powder is processed to avoid the part of the soy that can have estrogen-like effects. This makes it a good choice for people who have been advised to avoid soy for its effect on hormones, such as those with breast cancer. Lecithin granules are made from soy powder mixed with soy oil, so the granules do contain these estrogen-like compounds. If you cannot consume soy, some lecithin powder and granules is made from egg yolks instead.
Lecithin powder and lecithin granules are relatively low in calories. A tablespoon serving of lecithin powder contains 50 calories while a tablespoon of granules has 80 calories. The granules are slightly higher in fat, with 8 grams per serving compared with the 2.5 grams in a serving of powder. Neither lecithin granules nor lecithin powder is a significant source of vitamins or minerals.
Whether you consume lecithin powder or lecithin granules, always consume them according to directions. While taking 10 to 30 grams of lecithin per day should not trigger side effects, higher doses may cause such health problems as diarrhea, skin rash, nausea and vomiting, weight gain, dizziness, and an abnormal body odor.