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No studies support lecithin claims

Q: Is lecithin helpful for lowering cholesterol?

A: Using lecithin to lower cholesterol was a "fad" in the late 1970s and appears to be making a comeback. Lecithin is a type of fat known as a phospholipid. Look for it on the ingredient panel in foods, where it is used as an emulsifier. An emulsifier is a substance used to hold water-soluble and fat-soluble substances together (like mayonnaise).

Since the human body manufactures its own lecithin and a deficiency has not been reported, taking it in supplement form appears to have no benefit. There have been no studies that support the claims of the many promoters of lecithin. Synthetic (man made) lecithin is not well absorbed by the body, it is produced in the process of refining soy oil.

Sue Kosharek, of Rochester, is a registered dietitian in private practice. Questions for Nutrition Briefs should be sent to the Food section, Post-Bulletin, 18 First Ave. S.E., Rochester, MN 55904. Questions can be left on the Nutrition Hotline on City Line, 252-1111, category 5100, and questions will be forwarded to columnists. You also may e-mail questions to lifestyle@postbulletin.com.

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