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.