31 October 2008

Ingredient Watch: Halloween Edition

For today's ingredient, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at lecithin, since there is some sort of  lecithin (usually soy lecithin) in many of our Halloween chocolate bars.

Lecithin can come from many sources, including eggs, animal, and plant tissues, but seems to most often come from egg yolks or soy. In the case of chocolate bars,  a small amount of lecithin is used as an emulsifier. It keeps the cocoa and the cocoa butter from separating. 

I actually have childhood memories of lecithin, ones that are not at all related to Halloween or deliciousness. My grandmother (who was very health conscious) made me take a heaping tablespoon of lecithin every day that I stayed with her. I remember it being pale yellow and separated into fine grains. It was extremely difficult to swallow, tasted like almost nothing, and I think I resisted it on more than one occasion.

I suspect my grandmother wanted me to take it because I wouldn't eat eggs as a child. Lecithin is thought to be good for a wide range of ailments, including dementia and Alzheimers. However, there are side effects to soy lecithin supplements (like abdominal pain!) and there are folks in the anti-soy camp who would prefer egg lecithin.

1 comment:

Maris said...

Very interesting - thanks for posting! I always wonder what those random ingredients are on the labels of many foods - although, sometimes we are better off not knowing!