Lecithin, or phosphatidylcholine, is one of the most abundant phospholipids, which are the structures that make up your cell membranes. Your body makes lecithin by breaking down the phosphatidylcholine in the foods you eat into choline and some phosphates, then building it up into lecithin for your own cells. Food analysis laboratories typically analyze the choline content of food, and foods with a high amount of choline are also high in lecithin. Animal-derived foods are the best sources of choline, and you should aim for at least 425 to 550 milligrams per day.
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Cooked Atlantic cod has 71 milligrams choline in a 3 ounce serving, and cooked salmon and canned shrimp have 56 to 60 milligrams. Along with providing high-quality protein and vitamin D, fatty fish and shellfish are rich in EPA and DHA, which are long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that may lower your risk for heart disease. Eat two servings per week to meet recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Dairy and Eggs
Milk has 38 milligrams choline per cup, and a large egg has 126 milligrams. Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese, help you build and maintain strong bones because they are excellent sources of calcium, which is part of your bone mineral. Fortified dairy products have vitamin D, which helps your body absorb and use calcium from your food. Limit the calories and saturated fat by choosing low-fat or fat-free dairy products with no added sugars.
Cooked Brussels sprouts and broccoli each provide more than 60 mg choline, and other green leafy vegetables have similar amounts. They are also sources of dietary fiber, potassium and vitamins A and C. If you are a strict vegetarian, or vegan, and do not eat animal foods, you may be at risk for inadequate intake. Ask your doctor if you should consider taking a lecithin supplement, such as lecithin granules.
Legumes are rich in lecithin, and 1 cup of soymilk or cooked beans, such as kidney or black, provides about 70 to 80 milligrams choline. Peanut butter has 20 milligrams choline per 2 tablespoons serving, and soybean lecithin oil has 48 milligrams in a 1 tablespoon serving. Peanuts and soybean oil provide heart-healthy unsaturated fats and vitamin E. Soybeans have high-quality protein and dietary fiber, and many soy products have isoflavones, which may lower your risk for heart disease.