Lecithins are a naturally occurring component in many animal and plant tissues. Lecithin is commercially available in many forms and is used in food, pharmaceutical, paint, plastics and other industrial applications. Although the word lecithin is derived from the Greek "lekithos," which means "yolk of an egg," the primary commercial source of lecithin is the soybean. Soy lecithin can easily be extracted chemically or mechanically from soybeans. Lecithins consist of a mixture of phospholipids, glycolipids, neutral lipids and sugars.
Lecithin is present in a wide variety of foods. In foods like chocolate and margarine, lecithin serves as an emulsifier
, keeping ingredients in a consistent and homogenous mixture. Lecithin helps maintain the stability of foods such as ready-to-serve infant formulas
, low-fat salad dressings, margarines and chocolate. Lecithin helps many instant powders
mix more quickly and effectively, making powdered milk, protein shakes and instant puddings easy-to-enjoy foods. In spray forms
, lecithin helps foods release from production equipment and pans, enabling production of cereals, pastas, cookies and crackers
Plant lecithins, such as SOLEC™, are by-products of the vegetable oil refining process and are created at the end of soybean processing. After soybeans are carefully selected for their color and size, they are cleaned to remove impurities. The quality and origin of the oilseeds have a considerable influence on the composition and quality of the crude lecithin. The soybeans are conditioned, cracked, dehulled and rolled into flakes. The oil is removed from the soy flakes. Water is added to this crude oil, which hydrates the phosphatides, rendering them oil-insoluble. This material is then separated from the oil, dried and fluidized with soybean oil and fatty acids to produce standard grade lecithin. Lecithin can be used in this form or used as source material for other lecithins. Further processing adapts the lecithin to suit specific application requirements by giving it technical or physiological properties that crude lecithin does not possess.
Solae sells many types of lecithin under the SOLEC™ brand. Our team will partner with you to determine which lecithin best works for you or develop a customized solution that meets your needs. Solae’s lecithin team is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and expertise necessary to analyze products and data, develop prototypes and make appropriate recommendations. Our dedicated lecithin sales team and responsive customer service support ensure quality SOLEC™ lecithin is readily available globally to support your business. Let us assist you
with your lecithin needs.