If you are one of the people who follow a lectin free diet for its health benefit, you may be wondering “Does lecithin contain lectin?”.
The short answer is, no, lecithin does not contain lectins. Read on and discover their fascinating differences.
You may have heard the term “lectin free” regarding our food choices, and perhaps read information about how a lectin free diet may be beneficial for some people with food sensitivities.
Although lectin and lecithin are spelled similarly, they are not the same, and lecithin does not contain lectins.
A lectin is a type of carbohydrate-binding protein that sticks to the cell membranes in the digestive tract, while lecithin is a group of fatty substances found in plant and animal tissues that are essential for proper biological function.
In other words, lectin is a plant protein, and lecithin is an essential fatty nutrient that is naturally occurring in the tissues of plants and animals.
Now, let’s dive a little deeper about the differences between these two and what role they play in our bodies.
What is Lectin?
A lectin is naturally occurring protein that is found in most plants. And, even though we often think of plants as healthy, lectins are what Dr. Steven Gundry refer to as “The Plant Paradox”.
Lectins provide a protective function for plants as they grow, and when small amounts are present in the human body, lectins can be beneficial by helping the good bacteria present in our digestive systems.
When large quantities are present in the human body, lectins can actually have the opposite effect and even function as an anti-nutrient.
Lectins are not digestible by the human body and bind to the cell membranes lining the digestive tract. There, they may disrupt metabolism and block the absorption of the nutrients our bodies need. This is why many people who have food sensitives or are prone to gastrointestinal distress have turned to a reduced lectin, or lectin-free diet.
Some foods that contain higher amounts of lectins include beans, lentils, potatoes, peanuts, tomatoes, eggplant, fruits, some nuts and wheat and other grains.
What is Lecithin?
Lecithin is a yellow to brown fatty substance in plant and animal tissues. Lecithin is not a single substance, but rather, a group of natural occurring chemicals called phospholipids.
Phospholipids are required by the body to build cell membranes and are vital to the normal functioning of the brain, blood, nerves and other tissues.
Lecithin is also a great source of choline in the form of phosphatidylcholine.
Because of its many health benefits, lecithin is often taken as a supplement.
Some of these benefits include:
- Reduce fatty build-up in the liver,
- Lower cholesterol and triglycerides,
- Treat acne, and
- Aid in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Because of its high concentration of choline and other phospholipids, lecithin is used to help sharpen memory, even in those without memory disorders.
Although lecithin occurs naturally in many foods, lecithin supplements are typically derived from eggs, soy, or sunflowers.
Soy is one of the most widely grown crops, which makes it a cost-effective way to source lecithin, but 94 percent of soy is genetically modified in the United States, and chemicals including acetone and hexane, are used to extract the lecithin from soybean oil.
Sunflower is a healthier alternative for sourcing this beneficial lecithin because it is a clean, non-GMO oil. The extraction process is typically gentler and is carried out by cold pressing rather than with chemical solvents.
Also, unlike soy, sunflower does not often cause allergenic reactions.
Summary – Lectin vs Lecithin
Lectin is a protein present in plants that can bind to the cell membranes in the human digestive tract, while lecithin is essential fatty substance naturally found in many food sources, as well as in the tissues of plants and animals.
Lectins in large amounts can have a negative impact on our health, while lecithin in large amounts can have many health benefits.
So, as you can see… lecithin and lectins may sound similar, but have vastly different functions in the human body.
MariGold Proteins Bars have a New & Improved Formula!
Our MariGold Proteins Bars now include Sunflower Lecithin. Lecithin is an excellent source of Phosphatidylcholine, which is the most abundant phospholipid in the body and is shown to be very prevalent in young and healthy cell membranes.
We specifically use Sunflower Lecithin because is a better form than lecithin derived from soy.
We hope you enjoy the many benefits of Sunflower Lecithin in our protein bars!