Boost memory and heart health with lecithin*

Lecithin is a special type of fat called a phospholipid. About 13% by weight of the lecithin molecule is choline. Most choline in the diet is derived from lecithin. Some foods contain it in the free form or as a component of other phospholipids.

One tablespoon of lecithin granules provides about 1,725 mg of phosphatidylcholine and 250 mg choline, a little less than the content in an egg.

In many of the studies that convinced nutritionists that choline is an important nutrient, lecithin appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease several ways: by contributing cholesterol-lowering polyunsaturated fats, inhibiting intestinal absorption of cholesterol, increasing the excretion of cholesterol and bile acids, and favorably affecting lipoprotein profiles.

In one study, people with high blood lipids were given 10.5 grams of lecithin for 30 days. Their average total cholesterol and triglycerides decreased by an impressive one-third, the bad LDLs decreased by 38% and the good HDLs increased by 46%. The researchers concluded that "lecithin...should be administered for the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis."

Human studies suggest lecithin and choline may also benefit memory. In one study, investigators gave healthy adults either 2 tablespoons of lecithin or a placebo for five weeks. By the end of the study, memory test scores of the lecithin group improved significantly, exceeding those of the placebo group.

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