Pronounce it “less-i-thin” and call it a miracle. For lecithin is a substance that, while not exactly misunderstood, is perhaps not understood. We know where it comes from. It is found in egg yolks, and in some vegetable oils. But mostly lecithin is simply a little soybean stuff that you may take as you like in oil, in capsules, in granules. But take it if you want to watch your shape change.

And here’s one spot where you might as well not ask your doctor. According to Linda Clark, most of them never heard of the stuff. My own wise physician has a crew of weight-lifters for patients (seems they come to him to straighten them out when they’ve inflicted weird-diet ills on themselves). He tells me that they eat great quantities of lecithin to tighten up those sinewy muscles. Let me point out that there’s nothing wrong with having your muscles tightened, either.

But since lecithin is a food, not a drug, I feel totally safe in recommending it without qualification.

I learned about lecithin from the experts experts like Adelle Davis, Linda Clark, and Edward R. Hewitt, who is the author of a pamphlet called “Lecithin and Health.” (Probably available in your health-food store tract-rack.)

Lecithin is found in every single cell of the human body, and its concentration in the brain is 17 to 20 percent. According to Linda Clark, that’s important, because lecithin has a high phosphorus content. And, says Miss Clark, “No phosphorus, no brains.” Not stopping with brains, Miss Clark goes on to say that lecithin is essential for the proper function of all glands, including the sex glands.

But what you’re interested in is what lecithin can do for your body. Lots, for lecithin is an emulsifier, used in the manufacture of chocolate. (Remember, you do not eat chocolate on the grounds that it contains lecithin. You eat lecithin.) It keeps that chocolate liquid and thus keeps it moving. And lecithin does the same for your fat keeps it moving, moving right off you.

Lecithin tends to be a natural diuretic as well. And remember that, for as long as you diet my way, no unnatural diuretics are permitted. Ever. The reason is simple. Diuretics tend to wash away the body’s potassium salts. And the most ironic part of all is that potassium is the very thing that prevents water retention in the first place. And to me, water retention for all that doctors may reassure me “it’s only water” looks like fat. It also makes you feel fat, which is just as bad. Keep the potassium, lose the water without dangerous diuretic drugs. Anyway, without potassium, you’re dead.

With all the fat-moving it does, there is some evidence that lecithin can also be an effective cholesterol-reducer. According to Lecithin and Health, Dr. Lester M. Morrison of Crenshaw Hospital (wish I could claim kinship, but I can’t kindred in spirit only) in Los Angeles has published observations he made as director of a research project at the Los Angeles County Hospital.

Dr. Morrison selected a group of fifteen patients who previously had not responded to treatments with low-fat diets, nor to a number of agents reputedly effective against cholesterol. These fifteen patients were given six tablespoons of lecithin daily without any other added prescriptions, and blood tests were taken once a month to establish the content of serum cholesterol. The experiment lasted three months, during which time the patients commented that they were feeling better and had more energy for both physical and mental work. And it was noted that the patients, on the whole, did not eat more, nor put on weight. At the end of the three months, twelve patients showed a 30 percent decrease in cholesterol, on an average basis.

But not only does lecithin do all these seemingly impossible fat-moving tricks, it is also the best source of two of the hardest-to-get B vitamins. Those are choline and inositol, and they are two of the B vitamins that, as you will soon see, are two of the most important to hair health and beauty. Thus while you’re making your body lithe with lecithin, you’re doing the same for your hair.

Not bad for a soybean, I’d say.

And we won’t stop at that. Lecithin doesn’t. It’s full of vitamin E, the sexy shaper-upper. The one that seems to be the panacea for practically everything, including your love life. (Perhaps that’s why lecithin has its sex-gland effect . . . it’s the old chicken-or-the-egg question.)

I happen to like lecithin. Other still-faithful lecithin-eaters swear it tastes like soap. But there are any number of ways to make sure you get your daily ration. And as far as I am concerned, one to two tablespoons a day should do it.

If you must disguise it, then you can mix it with your morning orange juice (assuming the low-carbohydrate diet hasn’t been your choice; then you can mix it with that Tropi-Cal Lo). Or milk. Or broth. I sprinkle a tablespoon of lecithin granules over the wheat germ I eat each and every morning of my life.

I think when you see lecithin’s effects in the mirror, you’ll learn to love it. For, to me, almost anything tastes delicious if it’s getting me skinny!

You won’t get much information off a lecithin label. And even the health-food folk who sell it can’t help much. So I’ve dug up all the data available and put it into my chart under Fats and Oils. For, even in its granular form, lecithin is still a fat which drives the point home one more time that eating fat can make you skinny and healthy into the bargain.

There’s one more thing to mention about lecithin. After all, those weight-lifters that take it so regularly aren’t out to lose weight. They need it. So it isn’t that lecithin reduces you (your low-calorie or low-carbohydrate dieting does that). On the contrary, it simply shifts your weight around to where you want it. And if, perchance, you are skinny, but have lumps on your hips or thighs, as did one of my wonderful guinea-pig friends, it seems to remove them. This particular guinea pig is thrilled and vows that it is the first time in her ever-thin life that she was able to be thigh-less. Not thinner just not lumpy. Pretty miraculous, isn’t it?

As for which form of lecithin to take, take your choice. But they tell me that the granular form of lecithin is the most potent kind (by “they” I mean a quantity of lecithin manufacturers, who really haven’t done much research into their product’s values), and the capsules, the least potent. I go for granules myself.

One last word on this miracle. You will be, of course, happy to see that there are 0 carbohydrate grams in lecithin, sixty-eight calories in a tablespoon of the granules, and twenty-five calories in a tablespoon of the oil. Keep that in your calorie-count notebeauty blog.

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