Lecithin, a powder produced commercially from soybeans, is used as an emulsifier to keep water and fat from separating in foods and can be found in margarine, chocolate, baked goods, and breakfast cereals. Lecithin can also be found naturally in egg yolks. In addition, the human liver produces lecithin, and the brain and nerves are rich in this substance, which is important for conducting nerve impulses through the body. As part of the structure of lipoproteins, lecithin functions in the transport of triglycerides and cholesterol through the blood as well.
Lecithin is a popular dietary supplement, credited with improving memory as well as helping with a variety of ailments, including arthritis, gallstones, and skin disorders; however, scientific evidence supporting these claims is inconclusive. Lecithin supplements have also been promoted as a method for lowering blood cholesterol, but a small study of men with high blood-lipid levels found that after four weeks of consuming 20 g of lecithin a day, there was no significant effect on total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, or triglycerides.
One of the products of lecithin digestion in the body is linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid. Because polyunsaturated fat can lower blood cholesterol, it may be the linoleic acid that is responsible for the cholesterol-lowering effect commonly attributed to lecithin. In this case, vegetable oils constitute a more economical source of linoleic acid than lecithin supplements because vegetable oils can provide more linoleic acid for the money.
Like lecithin, the supplement policosanol is derived from natural foods. See the next page to learn about the potential benefits and effectiveness of policosanol.
To find out more information about reducing cholesterol, see:
- Foods That Lower Cholesterol: Many foods and supplements are proven to have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels. Learn which foods can help lower your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease.
- Can Vitamins Lower Cholesterol?: Can a vitamin regimen really help lower cholesterol? Learn just how effective vitamin therapy can be.
- How Cholesterol Works: Cholesterol is vital to human life. Learn what cholesterol is, why we need it, and how too much can be deadly.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.