by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist
If you are an avid label reader like I am, you have surely noticed that the additive soy lecithin is listed in a wide variety of packaged and processed foods, even products labeled 100% organic.
Soy, called soya outside the United States, is one of the most common allergens permeating our food supply. It is included in the group of the eight major allergenic foods commonly referred to as the Big 8. The other seven allergens are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and of course wheat.
Allergic reactions to soy range from mild to life threatening anaphylaxis. The good news is that research has shown that most children allergic to soy will outgrow it by age 10. The lack of a soy allergy, however, does not mean that soy should be consumed regularly given the numerous scientific studies that warn about the negative hormonal and digestive effects of unfermented soy in the diet.
But what about soy lecithin? Lecithin, after all, is a natural and necessary emulsifying substance found in the cells of all living organisms. It is found in many whole foods such as cabbage, cauliflower, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, and eggs among many others. When this seemingly innocuous additive is listed on a food label, it is usually one of the very last ingredients meaning that minute amounts will be consumed if the product is eaten.
Does a tiny amount of lecithin extracted from soy and added to food really pose a risk to health? Could this issue be overblown in the majority of cases?