Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Thoughts: Lecithin. What is it?
It's in a lot of our foods...including chocolate. And most of the chocolate recipes I checked out on the internet had lecithin as an ingredient so I wanted to find out what it is!
Lecithin is used nowadays in a generic way to designate any group of yellow-brownish fatty substances occurring in animal and plant tissues, and in egg yolk, composed of phosphoric acid, choline, fatty acids, glycerol, glycolipids, triglycerides, and phospholipids (e.g., phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, and phosphatidylinositol).
However, the word lecithin was originally created in 1847 by a French chemist and pharmacist, Theodore Nicolas Gobley, to designate pure phosphatidylcholine. Gobley originally isolated lecithin from egg yolk (which became its namesake, from Greek lekithos—λέκιθος, litterally egg yolk), and established the complete chemical formula of phosphatidylcholine in 1874; in-between he had demonstrated the presence of lecithin in a variety of biological matters, such as veinous blood, bile, and human brain, as well as from fish eggs, fish roe, chicken and sheep brain...
Lecithin can be easily obtained from readily available sources such as soy beans, from which it is extracted chemically (using hexane) or mechanically. It has low solubility in water. In aqueous solution its phospholipids can form either liposomes, bilayer sheets, micelles, or lamellar structures, depending on hydration and temperature. This results in a type of surfactant that is usually classified as amphipathic. Lecithin is sold as a food supplement and for medical uses. In cooking, it is sometimes used as an emulsifier.
Lecithin is used commercially in foods requiring a natural emulsifier and/or lubricant, and in pharmaceuticals as protective coverings. For example, lecithin is the emulsifier that keeps cocoa and cocoa butter in a candy bar from separating. In margarines, especially those containing high levels of fat (>75%), lecithin is added as an 'anti-spattering' agent for shallow frying.
There is evidence to suggest that lecithin itself can lower cholesterol. Egg-derived lecithin may be a concern for those following some specialized diets. Egg lecithin is not a concern for those on low-cholesterol diets, because the lecithin found in eggs markedly inhibits the absorption of the cholesterol contained in eggs. There is no general agreement among vegetarians concerning egg-derived lecithin, since it is animal-derived; Jains, vegetarian Hindus (like Brahmins) and vegans choose not to consume it.
So I won't be using it in my chocolate.
Here's some comments I have read...
"After reading this and doing a bit of research I am finding a lot of nasty little truths about soy...who wants more chemically processed filler? I've been dealing with a little issue that I originally thought was gallstones but it seems everytime I eat a soy product I get cramping pains in my side, and no doctors seem to know what it is over an 8 month period. Cutting out anything with soy has made a BIG difference, and soy lecithin is no different. I'm happy to say I've found 1 single chocolate bar that says 'no soy lecithin' and it was one of the best treats I've had! and no side effects! Like global warming, maybe if we can get everyone on the NO SOY bandwagon then maybe we can actually start eating REAL food that is good for you. I would like to also state that I have not had any problems with tofu, as it comes in some of my favourite tasty dishes."
"I understand that the method invented by ADM is still used in practice. Soy beans are crushed and soaked with hexane, which extracts the lecithin compounds along with oil. The hexane is then removed in a still (a big boiler with a hood) and reused. Running steam through the remaining mixture makes the lecithin compounds bundle up with each other. The blobs can be extracted in a centrifuge. The resulting sludge is very thick and dark and is the starting point for all kinds of products that are sold as lecithin. The lecithin may be bleached with hydrogen peroxide, or further purified with other chemicals, or made into granules by mixing it with acetone."
Liquid lecithin (and the granules) have a lot of calories, around 130 for one serving. The lecithin has saturated fats.
Challenges: I haven't had my beetroot, carrot, ginger, celery juice for almost a week now and although I am still pooping the same I can notice the difference in my skin. A little sluggish.
Triumphs: Tomorrow is our first shoot day for "The Man In The Maze". I am nervous and excited woo woo! We are in Alabama USA. I am eating what I can and as raw as I can here in Alabamaaaaa! Before this Earth Diet, if I got nervous I would be eating sooo much to feed my nerves. And now I'm not woo woo :)
What I Ate Today:
Breakfast: 3 nectarines. Darjeeling tea.
Lunch: Brazil nuts. Chocolate balls with brazil nuts. A punnet of blueberries.
Dinnner: Indian cooked by the Directors wife Nimi, black eyed peas with Indian herbs and spices mmm mmm with rice and salad and raw brocoli.
Dessert: No dessert.
Snacks: Green grapes.
Exercise: Stretches and walking around shopping malls in Alabama looking for wardrobe for my role in "The Man In The Maze". www.themaninthemaze.net
My veiw from my hotel room, in Florence, Alabama, population 36,000. I love the character of it, the uniqueness :)
246 days to go!!!