The lowdown on lecithins

April 21, 2017

An essential ingredient in any powdered whey product, one you may have noticed but not known what it was or given it much thought  we give you the lowdown on lecithins and emulsification.

What is lecithin?

Lecithin is an edible and digestible emulsifying and agent used throughout the food industry. In our case the presence of lecithin is the difference between instantised (present) and uninstantised whey powders.

Emulsion is the mixing of two liquids or powders that would ordinarily not mix together.

Put simply lecithin allows the whey powder to mix consistently with water or milk and not clump at the top or bottom of the shaker or blender. Lecithin can be obtained through a variety of sources with the main two types found in whey powders derived from sunflower oil or soybean oil.

Soy lecithin is a by-product of the soy oil making process removed by a process called degumming. The reason why soy lecithin is so common is that the production of soy oil in North America is so grand, and as a direct by-product it is so readily accessible therefore also produced in large quantities. This soy lecithin present in most American whey powders is derived from genetically modified crops however, the soy lecithin used in our NZ whey powders is sourced from non-GMO crops.

The main concern with seeing soy on the ingredient list is for those who have soy allergies however research indicates that people who have a soy allergy or sensitivity can safely consume soy lecithin as the amount is so insignificant. To give you an example the profile present in whey powder typically makes up around 0.1% of the total product and is of such little nutritional significance that many allergists dont even advise their soy allergic patients to avoid its consumption.

Still not convinced? Good we offer an alternative

Sunflower lecithin - a convenient substitute to soy. Only recently has it really become popular as diets such as the paleo diet do not permit the consumption of processed foods. Sunflower lecithin is organic and natural by nature and there are no known allergic reactions caused by the product. The sunflower oil is extracted using cold pressing techniques (similar to those of olive oil) which helps to maintain the nutritional integrity of the oil, opposed to hot press processes which are quicker but reduce the nutritional content of the oil.

Again there is such an insignificant amount of sunflower lecithin contained in most products to affect overall nutritional wellbeing (whey protein being 0.1%) even though there is compelling evidence to the beneficial effects of sunflower seed & oil consumption in higher quantities.




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