Soy Lecithin – Ingredient Profile

Soy Lecithin

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This is another ingredient that seems to be found in just about every food in the middle aisles of the grocery store. The difficulty with selling processed foods that, after sitting for long period in the store, sometimes they un-process.

Or, sometimes, additives like soy lecithin simply make them easier to produce quickly and uniformly. Either way, society’s embracing processed foods has brought a whole host of extra ingredients into our foods that otherwise would not be there.

What Is Soy lecithin?

Soy lecithin is a food additive that is used as an emulsifier [1]. Emulsifiers are products or additives that cause two things to mix together when they normally wouldn’t, such as the oil and non-oil liquids in your favorite salad dressing.

Lecithin can be made from sources other than soy, but soy lecithin is the most common form because it can be very cheaply made from the wastes left during soybean oil production.

Soybean oil is a major component of many vegetable oils, and as part of the extraction process for the oils, manufacturers are left with a considerable amount of leftovers.

Some manufacturers realized that this residue could be dried and made into soy lecithin fairly inexpensively. Today that process has caught on and soy lecithin is almost always the first choice lecithin emulsifier.

What Is Its Biological Role?

Soy lecithin [2] is a non-nutritive food additive; that means it is used during the production or preparation of processed foods not for any nutritional benefits, but to improve texture, consistency, and shelf life of these foods.

This ingredient does not contain concentration of soy proteins as high as in pure soy, so depending upon how severe your allergy is, anyone with soy allergies may or may not be able to consume soy lecithin without experiencing an allergic reaction.

How Does It Help Bodybuilders and People Who Work Out?

Soy Lecithin is a popular ingredient in the types of prepared foods found in health food stores, not just regular big box grocery stores. There is no hard evidence as of yet that this ingredient will hurt your workout in any way, it is mainly used by manufacturers to ensure ingredients blend in as they should and they stay fresh longer.

What Foods Contain It?

Soy lecithin is found in a wide variety of processed foods. This includes breads, nutritional bars and shakes, drink mixes, baked goods, even some meat products.

How Much Of It Do You Need?

This ingredient is on the FDAs GRAS list [3]. GRAS stands for Generally Recognized As Safe. These products are allowed by the FDA to be used in food production as long as they are used in the smallest amount required to achieve the desired result. However, soy lecithin is not considered to have nutritional value, and has no daily recommended amount one should consume.

Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Much Of It?

There have been requests for more research regarding exposure over time to this ingredient. For now, it has been deemed safe by the FDA in small doses with which it is used for production of processed foods and by manufacturers in supplements production.

Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Little Of It?

Soy lecithin is not considered a necessary part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. If you were to avoid consuming it you should not expect any adverse side effects.

Final Take

Once you decide what you are and are not comfortable with consuming, ensuring you read labels consistently will help put you in the driver’s seat when it comes to your nutrition.


[1] Reference. How Do Emulsifiers Work?, 2015.

[2] Dr. Axe, Josh. What Is Soy Lecithin.,2016.

[3] Food and Drug Administration, US. Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). US Department of Health and Human Services, 2017.

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