What if we told you that you could add an all-natural powder to your daily smoothie, and not only would that powder give your smoothie the texture of a milkshake, it would also give stalled fat loss a boost. Well, that’s exactly what he called a derivative of sunflower seeds sunflower lecithin can deliver according to First Lady of Nutrition Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD. This under-the-radar plant extract has also been shown to sharpen thinking, lower cholesterol, improve skin vibrancy, and possibly even help improve some of the symptoms of MS. Read on to find out how You can tap into its full-body health benefits.
What is Sunflower Lecithin?
Sunflower lecithin is composed of phospholipid compounds that incorporate into cell membranes and play a vital role in cell-to-cell communication that are extracted from sunflower seeds. The seeds are dehydrated and then separated into three basic parts: solids, oils and a rubber-like substance. That gummy substance is lecithin.
Sunflower lecithin is part of a specific subset of phospholipids called phosphatidylcholine, explains Cate Shanahan, MD, author of The Fatburn fix. This is an important molecule in every single cell of our body and in every single living thing.
What role does sunflower lecithin play in the body?
In addition to helping maintain and compose cell membranes, sunflower lecithin is a natural emulsifier, which means that it stabilizes mixtures of two liquids that would otherwise separate (such as the oil and vinegar in Italian dressing). It is used in food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, often as an alternative to soy lecithin, which can be genetically modified or cause reactions in soy allergy sufferers.
In the body, lecithin serves essentially the same purpose. It acts as a fat emulsifier, breaking down and dispersing fats to increase their bioavailability, says Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, author of Radical longevityYour liver naturally produces lecithin when it has adequate choline building blocks, but this nutritional compound is often in short supply. Enter sunflower lecithin supplementation.
Top 5 Health Benefits of Sunflower Lecithin Supplements
Since you can’t get the recommended 1 to 2 tablespoons of sunflower lecithin from eating sunflowers alone, experts like Gittleman recommend consuming it in supplemental powder form (keep scrolling to learn more). Here are some benefits that integration can offer:
1.) Sunflower Lecithin Facilitates Weight Loss
For those looking to finally shed those stubborn pounds, sunflower lecithin may be the secret to speeding up your metabolism. Lecithin is a fat-flashing accelerator, Gittleman rejoices. People see an amazing change in their waistline when they increase their intake.
According to Gittleman, lecithin’s beneficial fat breaks down harmful fats that stiffen cell membranes. This allows lecithin and other healthier fats like avocado and coconut oil to replace them. The result is healthier cell membranes and an increased metabolism.
Adding a tablespoon of lecithin to your smoothie is like adding detergent to dishwater: It melts fat from your hips and thighs, breaking it down so your body can use what it needs and flush the rest away, says Gittleman. This underappreciated fat-melting food deserves a lot more attention than it gets!
Gittleman says he first realized lecithin’s power when he asked volunteers to test
It. Everyone was amazed, she recalls. Suddenly they felt like a million bucks. And the lumpy cellulite, which is the hardest fat to lose, has also started to disappear.
2.) Sunflower lecithin sharpens memory and may ward off MS
Contains sunflower lecithin choline, a chemical used by the brain to communicate. Choline can be converted into a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which plays an important role in enhancing neural pathways in the brain to enhance memory and learning. Choline is so crucial to sharper thinking than research into The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that a choline-rich diet can improve both verbal and visual memory. (Click for more natural memory boosters.)
And that neural protective power of sunflower lecithin may help in the fight against multiple sclerosis, too. Lecithin makes up about 30 percent of the brain, as well as two-thirds of the myelin sheaths that surround the brain, nerves and spinal cord, Gittleman says. There is evidence that multiple sclerosis sufferers are deficient in lecithin, which makes sense considering that MS is a disease of the myelin sheaths.
3.) Sunflower lecithin lowers cholesterol and keeps blood vessels healthy
The brain isn’t the only organ that benefits from sunflower lecithin. Your heart and blood vessels can also reap the rewards in a number of ways. Research suggests that the phosphatidylcholine in lecithin lowers levels of bad LDL cholesterol. It works by reducing the absorption of cholesterol from food in the intestines. Indeed, the research in the magazine Cholesterol found that lecithin supplementation reduced LDL cholesterol by up to 56% and total cholesterol by up to 42% within two months. (Click for more ways to lower cholesterol without drugs.)
Sunflower lecithin also has anti-inflammatory properties which make it beneficial for the cardiovascular system. The phosphatidylcholine in sunflower lecithin inhibits the production of inflammation-causing proteins called cytokines. This reduction in inflammation has the potential to improve blood vessel function, relieving strain on the ticker.
4.) Sunflower lecithin keeps skin youthful
A rich source of phospholipids, sunflower lecithin works from within to improve skin elasticity, prevent age-related damage, and reduce swelling and inflammation, according to research in JID innovations. Lecithin is also a good source of antioxidants. These powerful compounds help protect skin cells from free radical damage, research in International Journal of Pharmaceuticals reveals, which can lead to wrinkles and liver spots. (Click to find out the best ways to fade liver spots.)
5.) Sunflower lecithin protects against gastrointestinal disorders known as ulcerative colitis
Search in Digestive diseases found that lecithin can improve digestion in people with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes ulcers and inflammation in the large intestine. This is because sunflower lecithins work as an emulsifier and improve the protective mucus lining of the intestines. This facilitates digestion and protects the organs from inflammation.
How to add more sunflower lecithin to your diet
Sunflower lecithin is available in a variety of forms, from capsules to powders, liquids and granules. The supplement has a mild, slightly nutty flavor that Gittleman says can be easily mixed with other foods or beverages, particularly in its liquid form.
The best way to add sunflower lecithin to your diet/health regimen is to add 1 to 2 tablespoons to your daily smoothie or salad dressings, says Gittleman. (Click to find out how to make your weight loss shake more filling.)
Lecithin granules are also popular, especially if you prefer a thicker smoothie texture. The granules make smoothies nice and thick almost like a milkshake, says Gittleman, who suggests storing lecithin in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life. You can also try adding powdered or granulated lecithin to sauces, gravies, or soups to make them creamier.
While you’ll benefit from taking sunflower lecithin any time of day, Gittleman says morning is preferable because it aids in appetite suppression, keeping you full until lunch.
Interested in trying sunflower lecithin? Gittleman recommends Foods Alive Liquid Sunflower Lecithin (buy from iHerb.com, $13.10). Other smart picks include Micro Ingredients Organic Sunflower Lecithin Powder (Buy from Amazon.com, $29.95) and Legendairy Milk Organic Sunflower Lecithin Softgels (Buy from Amazon.com, $21.99). Whichever formulation you prefer, Gittleman recommends opting for organic sunflower lecithin whenever possible.
For more tips on natural ways to harness the power of fatty acids to accelerate weight loss, click on our sister publications. Adding *this* butter to your diet can break a weight loss plateau so you’ll lose faster than ever before.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your doctor before pursuing any treatment plan.
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