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What Is the Connection Between Lecithin and Cholesterol?

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  • Written By: Brandon May
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 July 2013
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Lecithin is a natural fat-soluble compound found in egg yolks and soybeans, and is also sold on its own in the dietary supplement section for various ailments and conditions. There is a correlation between lecithin and cholesterol lowering, but studies are not conclusive as to whether lecithin provides a major benefit. Many lecithin supplements, which are usually derived from soybeans, claim a link between lecithin and cholesterol reduction. Other than the weak evidence which supports the link between lecithin and cholesterol, lecithin has been shown conclusively to improve cognitive abilities.

The connection between lecithin and cholesterol lowering lies in lecithin's chemical structure, made primarily of fatty acids. It has been shown that these fatty acids help certain lipids and steroids like cholesterol maintain a fluid-like passage and aid in the movement of cholesterol out of the bloodstream and away from the body. Although lecithin has been shown to be beneficial in moving low-density lipoproteins, or LDL, out of the body, the studies have not been conclusive or even widely studied. Many manufacturers try to benefit from the studies which show a correlation between lecithin and cholesterol by using the connection in marketing dietary supplements.

Other benefits which have been connected to lecithin include weight loss and skin healing, yet these theories are more far fetched than that of lowering cholesterol. As lecithin supposedly aids in the movement of cholesterol out of the body, it is proposed that lecithin will do the same for body fat in adipose tissue. These theories can become flawed when the caloric content of lecithin is analyzed, as its fat contributes too many calories to completely link its consumption with successful and lasting weight loss. It is also unclear as to how lecithin could improve skin healing, but it may be due to the fact that the fats in lecithin help nourish the skin and underlying tissues.

Other than the loose connections between lecithin and cholesterol, there is one benefit which has had more support in the scientific field. Cognitive abilities may be strengthened with the use of lecithin, and it has been shown to be somewhat helpful in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. This disease causes a decrease in a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, and lecithin has been shown to increase the production of this natural neurotransmitter. If LDL lowers while taking this supplement to increase cognitive abilities, it should be seen as a positive side effect but not necessarily a direct cause.

Discuss this Article

fify
Post 3

Lecithin does help with cholesterol, but only if you follow a low cholesterol diet. Some people eat everything they shouldn't be eating and then think that they can take lecithin and save themselves.

alisha
Post 2

@simrin-- I think that there is a connection between lecithin and cholesterol but not as strong as some people suggest.

Lecithin doesn't suddenly reduce cholesterol for a person. I know this from experience, I've been taking lecithin supplements for about six months now. I didn't see any change in my cholesterol until two months ago and this change was nothing drastic.

There was a recent study on lecithin that said the same thing. If you check someone's cholesterol levels, give them a high amount of lecithin and check their cholesterol again the next day, you won't see any difference. And mind you, the lecithin supplements given in studies are much more potent than stuff that you and I can get from the pharmacy.

But I also believe that lecithin does help with the whole process of cholesterol absorption and excretion from the body. Lecithin is something that's required for HDL, a good cholesterol that helps remove bad cholesterol from the body.

So even though there are no immediate results with lecithin, I think that lecithin still has benefits. I think it helps my body deal with cholesterol in the long term and this is why I'm taking it.

simrin
Post 1

I just read on a manufacturer's site that lecithin not only reduces cholesterol, but it also reverses liver damage, prevents gallstones and prevents multiple sclerosis!

How can a supplement do so many things?! And how can it prevent such serious diseases? I can't believe that lecithin manufacturers can make such claims without showing any evidence.

For me, the claims about lecithin reducing cholesterol or helping to lose weight are just claims, mere opinions. There is no proof to back them up.