Many foods, including animal, plant and processed foods, include a fatty substance known as lecithin. Some of the best sources of natural lecithin include egg yolk, liver, dairy, meat, soybeans, avocados and cabbage as well as dietary supplements. Taking a lecithin supplement might be the easiest way to obtain lecithin, because it allows you to get on with your day without having to worry about planning your lecithin-rich meals. Obtaining natural lecithin from foods, however, can provide your body with many additional nutrients.
When it comes to food, animal proteins contain the highest amounts of natural lecithin. These include egg yolk, dairy, fish, fish eggs, chicken, meat, liver and brains. Other good sources of natural lecithin include plant-based foods such as soybeans, whole grain foods, avocados, olives, cabbage, peanuts and many seeds. Soybeans rank the highest among plant sources, and any soy-based product is an excellent choice. These include tofu, which is a popular meat substitute, soy sauce, soy flour and vegetable oil that is derived from soybeans.
In processed foods, lecithin is often used as an emulsifier or lubricant. In some foods, it acts as a preservative to help prolong the foods' shelf-life, and in others, it acts as a stabilizer. Lecithin also helps to bring out more flavor in the foods, and it is commonly found in candy bars, chocolate, baked goods, soups and certain drinks.
When choosing your lecithin-rich foods, try to choose foods or products that have been grown or raised naturally. Studies show that plant-based foods contain more nutrients, because they have been allowed to spend more time growing and absorbing natural nutrients from the sun, the soil and water. Animals that are allowed to feed on naturally grown grasses and other natural feeds also tend to have more nutrients. In addition to having more nutrients, food that is grown or raised naturally contains lesser amounts of harmful chemicals.
A lecithin supplement might not be necessary for people who consume plenty of lecithin-rich foods. For those who do not have the time to add them into the diet, however, supplements can be handy. They are available in the forms of a powder, granules and capsules. Most natural lecithin supplements are extracted from egg yolks and soybeans and usually are available without a prescription. Always look for a trusted brand to ensure that the supplements are of a good quality.
Health benefits of lecithin include protection against Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, liver and kidney diseases and certain skin conditions. It also helps to strengthen the immune system, which is essential for the ability to fight off many diseases and common ailments. Side effects such as bloating, nausea and diarrhea can occur if one takes lecithin in large dosages of more than 30 milligrams a day.