What Is Soy Lecithin And Why Is It In My Chocolate?

What Is Soy Lecithin And Why Is It In My Chocolate?

cupcakeWhen I pick up a chocolate product and read the ingredients list, I’m usually just checking to see what sweetener has been used. So when a friend of mine asked what soy lecithin is (because it’s in just about every bar of chocolate), I shrugged and said I had no idea.

But now I can’t stop noticing it. Soy lecithin really is in a lot of chocolate products. And when last night when I was in Loblaws (Coles for you Aussies), I actually found a bottle of soy lecithin in the health food section!

So it got me wondering what soy lecithin actually is, and what it’s doing in my chocolate.

What is soy lecithin?

In the early 1900′s, the yet to be named ‘soy lecithin’ was just a waste product produced during the “degumming” process of soybean oil. By 1908 the soy bean crushing and soy oil refining companies had expanded and they were having trouble disposing of the large amounts of foul smelling, fermenting waste product. Soy plants in Germany decided to name this waste product ‘soy lecithin’ and looked for ways to utilize it. By 1939 scientists had found more than 1,000 different ways to use soy lecithin.

Why soy lecithin is in Chocolate

I may have found soy lecithin in the health food section but unfortunately it’s not added to chocolate to give you any nutritional value. Soy lecithin is an emulsifier, so it’s added to chocolate to keep the cocoa and the cocoa butter together.

And it’s added to bakery goods to make the dough less sticky and easier to rise.

Is soy lecithin bad for you?

soy lecithinYes and no. First, it’s important to note that solvents are used during the “degumming” process of soybean oil, so soy lecithin itself is likely to contain chemical solvents.

You also need to consider the quality of the soybeans used to product soy lecithin. If the soybeans are not organic, then the soy lecithin will contain herbicides and pesticides. And soybeans are often genetically modified which is an additional concern.

Soybeans and hormones

My personal concern with consuming soy products is the high levels of phytoestrogens they contain, because phytoestrogens can elevate your estrogen levels if eaten in high doses.

I have a genetic problem with estrogen dominance, so I don’t like to eat a lot of soy products. It’s beginning to concern me that soy is in so many foods. Being vegetarian, in the past I’ve relied heavily on soy products for protein but now I’m considering cutting out soy altogether.

I’m also allergic to soy so I guess that’s another reason to void soy and it’s by-products.

But lecithin itself is a very healthy food!

Really, the questionable part of ‘soy lecithin’ is just the ‘soy’. Lecithin itself (without the soy) is actually a very healthy food, most famously know for its high choline content.

You can even buy lecithin as a supplement, although personally I’d stick with the natural sources – the best being egg yolks and bee pollen. Vegans, you can get your lecithin from peanuts, wheat and oatmeal.

So next time you pick up that chocolate bar, have a look for ‘soy lecithin’ in the ingredients list. This time you’ll know exactly what it is!

48 comments… add one

  • Monica

    I love soy lecithin!! I bought the non-gmo kind at the health food store, and it helped my liver properly digest fats. Also the first few times I consumed it, I got this really happy mood feeling – which I guess is because the brain is 30% lecithin. I think I must’ve been really deficient in lecithin, because I rarely ate eggs or soy. Before I started taking soy lecithin, eating eggs, and taking a choline supplement, I had both liver and gallbladder fat metabolism issues. Without lecithin/choline, I had to do a low-fat diet. And the soy lecithin tastes divine! For a while, I really craved it. It is a fat emulsifier, which I guess helps the body break down fats. So, it does have its merits. Also, I don’t eat processed foods, so that is really all the soy that’s in my diet. Bon appetit!

  • SarasInParis

    Great post, Fran! It looks like it’s been more than four years since you wrote it and people are still commenting on it fairly regularly.
    I discovered the soy-chocolate link when my brother was diagnosed with a severe soy allergy. I went to great lengths to make him a chocolate birthday cake and ordered all of the ingredients online. By the way, for those of you who may still be looking for soy-free chocolate, I got mine at http://www.chocosphere.com. One of my favorite brands is Michel Cluizel.
    The reason that brought me to your site is a bit different than the rest of the repliers here (although I’m very much an advocate of organic foods, a warrior against anything Monsanto, and have license plates that read NO GMOS on my car).
    I was trying to find the history of using soy lecithin in chocolate. A couple of years ago, I took a “Chocolate Tour” in Paris and learned that until very recently (sometime in the 2000s I think) it was ILLEGAL to use soy lecithin in chocolate in France. It is a cheap way to replace cocoa butter. I’ve had people tell me that it’s absolutely essential to make chocolate. Hogwash. The French have been making chocolate since Marie Antoinette brought it with her from Austria (something else I learned on the tour). According to the tour guide, many French were outraged with the new law allowing soy.
    To me, chocolate made with soy just doesn’t taste right. Unless I’m desperate, I won’t eat chocolate with soy in it. But until consumers demand soy-free in large quantities with their dollars, large manufacturers will continue to use it. Most people are not aware of the risks of a high-soy diet, so I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
    For the label readers in the group, I’ve also seen soy lecithin show up on a label as just plain “emulsifier,” so beware. Some makers use a combination of cocoa butter and lecithin to make a “better” product, so keep your eye out for that, too.

    • Wow thank you so much! That was awesome information that I’m going to now carry with me :) xo

  • Heather

    Interesting article and comments. I recently got around to reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma and some other books. I have known about soy for some time, but it is in everything, even organic processed foods, just surrendered to it, and sort of believed the media message that small amounts are just peachy fine. I have made a decision to try cut soy as well as processed corn additives but it is in so much! Green and Blacks chocolate use soy lecithin as an emulsifier and it has been my chocolate for some time! Thanks to the data base I found some alternatives and cocoa camino does not use it in their large bars, but is not as tasty.
    Due to soy being so rampant, we in the West now eat far more soy than people in Japan, China etc! Soy is subsidized and the corporations, food companies etc must find things to do with it, and they have been busy! We are also eating it in toxic forms rather than traditional fermented forms which Asian cultures eat. It is well known that small amounts of something can be far more damaging than large amounts. While a bit of soy lecithin here and there might be okay, because it is in so much, we are being heavily dosed all the time. As for emulsifiers in chocolate, there are alternatives that so called ethical companies should be using.
    Also consider that if your genetic background has not been traditionally exposed to soy, then perhaps our bodies do not have the means to process it.
    While I am still munching on my chocolate supply until I find an alternative, I actually feel much better since cutting as much as possible with corn and soy additives.

  • I decided to stop eating soy for myself and my family due to several factors. We have found it hard to buy anything packaged due to soy and soy lecithin. These products are in almost everything!

    I found that nestle dark chocolate chips don’t contain soy lecithin (at least it isnt on the label).

    I wrote an article on my website about soy and soy lecithin (can be found here http://www.wrinklednapkin.com/general/soy ) but summarized it below.

    The only reason I can find that explains the high soy usage in the US is due to the low price of soy. That is probably caused by the subsidies that the soy industry gets. So basically the government is subsidizing the soy industry so that we have cheap soy which ends up in all our foods.

    1. Soy is high in phytoestrogens as others have mentioned, which mimics the estrogen in humans, which can lead to breast cancer, endometriosis, infertility, and other problems.
    2. Soy is an endocrine disrupter, which messes with our hormone system.
    3. Soy is high in phytic acid which reduces the absorbtion of minerals.
    4. Processing Soy into TSP/TVP (which is used in veggie patties and infant formula, among others) makes it high in toxic lysino-alanine and carcinogenic nitro-samines.
    5. Soy reduces testosterone.
    6. Soy contains tripsin inhibitors which interfers with protein digestion.

  • Aley

    THANK YOU! I went to no less than 4 sites looking for the answer to what soy lecithin is and yours was the first to actually answer that question to the fullest. I especially appreciated the note about what was used on the soybean before and during the degumming process.

  • Margie

    Do not underestimate the ” estorgen genetic” side of soy. If you have heard of the HER 2 gene then you know that soy will enhance breast cancer estrogen and this kind of breast cancer can “hide” anywhere in your body… not just the breast…[I am one of HER 2's victims]. … this estorgen- influenced cancer lodged in my lung 20 years after I had successful breast cancer surgery..20 years !! Never smoked in my life… no symptoms but an X-ray for an unrelated health concern found it. I am now in my 60s. I am on an anti-estrogen med. for the rest of my life and am petrified of ingesting “just a little bit” of any soy product. I would encourage anyone reading this to touch bases with her doctor to verify this message…

  • bernadette

    not sure if anyone here is Canadian but thankfully I have a chocolatier near me and he has a soy-free, fair-trade, organic chocolate line (which is available by online purchase). i buy his bars and melt them down for ganaches and chocolate molds as well as anything i bake w/ that requires chocolate: http://www.rochef.ca

    oh and for those wondering why soy products are virtually in everything, it has nothing to do with nutrition and good health. soy lechithin is a soy by-product that was mounting up in large quantities and industry put a lot of money into finding uses for it….now, soy is this booming industry in north america! so all those articles or sources that you find stating soy in small quantities is not harmful; well, it’s not small quantities when it is in everything processed that you buy – it becomes large quantities over a shorter time span and VERY harmful. any research that is sited supporting soy products is either industry or government funded! be careful what you read.

  • Anne

    Soy is in nearly everything. Read your labels and ingredients. If you have to have soy (can’t imagine that), it should only be organic AND fermented–miso, soy sauce and tempeh are the only fermented forms. Oh yes the stinky, rotten form called natto. You can find food without soy. You can find chocolate without soy lecithin. There is a chocolate database that will identify brands without soy. Also, there is a lecithin from sunflower seeds.

  • bernadette

    everyone should research the Weston A. Price website about anything regarding REALLY whole foods nutrition. i believe their are some articles on soy….also source anything by Sally Fallon (Nourishing Traditions is an awesome book). ALL UNFERMENTED SOY IS BAD FOR YOU! – whether it is organic or not (obviously GMO soy is much worse; for many other reasons, than organic BUT as mentioned in the article above even organic soy is high in hormones). You should only be consuming fermented soy products – you won’t be able to find anything in stores fermented EXCEPT for asian soy sauces. i’ve been so dishearted to see soy in virtually everthing and yet the average ‘joe’ (like myself) is not educated on how harmful it can be….ESPECIALLY TO CHILDREN AND INFANT’S FERTILITY, ENDOCRYN SYSTEM, ETC.! STAY AWAY FROM UNFERMENTED SOY!

  • Benjamin

    @ isabel, Uhm, I’m sorry, thats wrong, I beleive that estrogens are extremely unhealthy for either sex, and while neither of the sexes suffer LESS from the negative effects of estrogens (natural and phyto) Mens side effects are HIGHLY more noticeable, high estrogen in men also causes Testosterone to convert to DHT to control the estrogen levels, which can lead to EXTREMELY bad acne, hairloss, and Vision problems. as well estrogen dominant men usually are obese, and while obesity is looked down on in women, obese men are Abhorred by society.

  • Benjamin

    Fran, Hi and nicely written post!
    I was just wondering, since you seem to have similair “genetic” issues as I do, do you know any safe companies that have soy free products?
    especially meats, which I have a hard time finding any that have not been raised on soy.
    thanks! ~Benjamin

  • It is important to note that mosanto has a very high control of soy products in the gmo department. Not only the gmo crops of mosanto are pure crud, but their “round-up” pesticide is the most dengerous pesticide on the globe.

    round-up proove to be as dengerous as the initial formulae even if it’s distilled 45 times!!! most 3rd generation lab rats feeded mosanto soy spread with round up ended up completly STERILE!!!!.

    Soy lecithin is something bad considering that mosanto has control of about 80% of all gmo soy plants in the Western hemisphere. Take note that even “marketed” as organic can be deceitful and be made from gmo crud! Not all the time. But beware of big coorporation making crud most of the time and then releasing an”organic” product!

  • Mike

    To Maxine,

    The relation of soy to estrogen-sensitive cancers is the fact that soy is such a prevalent source of the ‘isoflavones’ genistein & daidzein. Both are phytoestrogens, which are plant molecules that are structurally and functionally similar to ‘mammalian estrogens’ (those found/produced naturally in the mammary glands of women’s breasts).
    Often times women diagnosed with breast cancer are surprised to discover (through pathology) that the biopsy of their tumor reveals something uniquely characteristic; that their carcinoma has an affinity to estrogen (i.e., the tumor has a natural desire to feed off of estrogen). These type of breast cancers are categorized as “estrogen receptor positive” (or ER+). The significance is that these type of cancers are estrogen dependent and as long as they are supplied with a source of that hormone, they WILL multiply and grow. Now for this particular forum I’ll spare you the details of the complex process of ‘cell proliferation’ ….of how an estrogen molecule binds to a protein receptor in these cancer cells, that triggers a signaling mechanism of information to the interior of the cell’s nucleus to activate genes of the chromosome, that will continue the cell-cycling process of replicating its DNA to split/divide into basically clones of itself where then specific proteins are produced…to eventually repeat the process, etc, etc, yada, yada, yada.
    Being that phytoestrogens metabolized from soy are so molecularly similar to that of naturally occurring female hormones, they have been shown to easily replace or substitute estrogen when receptors of cancer cells are looking to bind with their triggering partners.
    Much research has been performed that clearly identifies the health benefits of the nutrients derived from ‘genistein’ & ‘daidzin’, but for just about every study that finds how these isoflavones could actually inhibit the metastasizing of these types of breast cancer, a nearly equal number of studies find that they can- and often will promote the growth of these tumors. Conclusion: it appears the compiled data is too inconsistent in my opinion to trust regular consumption of soy products when undergoing cancer treatment; or a woman looking to prevent it.
    If you happen to have no breast cancer concerns, I still think -depending on one’s volume intake- that there are probably better options out there to derive what benefits you feel you acquire from soy. I would leave soy alone until the induction of those phytoestrogens could be put to good use (e.g., post menopausal women who’s natural hormone production has greatly diminished).

  • Isabel

    It’s not the boys, but the girls, who should worry the most about the hormones in soy. You could stop having periods, have extremely long and painful periods, and even become infertile over time. Plus soy hormones could make it hard to lose/maintain weight as hormones help control our weight.

  • Maxine

    What is the connection between estrogen-related cancer and soy/

  • jonathan wint

    Sorry I forgot something. Oh soy dose not in actuality raise Estrogen, it’s worse than that. It a Plant Estrogen clone molecule. So it like a man taking female hormone supplement, And not good for women because it only looks Close to Estrogen but not exact match. It’s the reason some peoples Skin breaks out if they eat chocolate. And it has been linked to cancer. And as side note, I am not homophobic and there nothing wrong in a man being gay and this will sound politically incorrect and if I offend any Homosexuals I deeply apologize. There is evidence that Male children that developed eating a heavy Soy diet witch is a female Sex female hormone clone courses a Hormone dysfunction. The next is pure unproven theory but also it’s common sense. That this fake estrogen build up in the developmental stage might lead to Homosexuality in adult males.
    Again I apologize if that offends anyone but point is a cancer coursing Sex female hormone clone dose not belong in anyone and certainly not preadolescence male!

  • jonathan wint

    This was very complete Article. Two important facts you missed was they symptoms of Soy and soy lecithin allergy, soy lecithin will course bad breath sore throat and a fever and take 3 days to show up. Soy will take up to a week in women And look like for all the world like a summer cold if there lucky, if not so lucky (like my wife) it course a inflammation (basically a rash) in there UT that compromises membranes courses UT Infections and Yeast infections and can lead to kidney Damage,This CAN TAKE UP TO 12 days to show up so Soy is like this Stealth allergen. In men it course erectile dysfunction over time and has been linked Sperm count loss as it raise estrogen in Men as well! Last most do not know what the genetic alteration in Soy dose.. it kills insects and has been proven to be the reason Bees are going extinct, Many Scientists Have been payed to argue this but wear Genetically altered crops have stopped being used insect populations have returned to normal witch include Bees. Which last time I checked were Insects!

  • Ahna

    Anne thank you so much!!! I am an absolute chocoholic and just a few months I found out I had a severe allergy to soy, all forms as well as guar gum and mono& di-glycerides. I’m only 21 so this news came as quite a shock… Last year I was so sick that all the doctors I went to said I had either MS or a brain tumor because I was losing weight like crazy and I am already underweight and I lost much of my vision as well as use of my right hand for 6 months…We finally diagnosed it as an allergy when we realized the only thing I was eating was chocolate(soy lecithin) and convenience foods being a college student and so I kept getting sicker and sicker. I have taken soy out of my diet and I am better but I am the biggest grouch. Occasionally I give in to a few bites of a candy bar but my throat swells up really fast. I had spent hours searching “soy free chocolate” but never came across a database!! I about passed out from pure joy when I found that chocolate database!!Thank you! Thank you! You have no idea how happy and elated you have made me!!!
    Now if only they had one of those for all other soy free foods…I just found soy in the chili powder and cottage cheese tonight! Really why is it in there?
    Right now I am living off plain yogurt, spinach, cheese, and a few soy free artisan breads and crackers from Walmart, but other than that I can’t find any CHEAP, fast soy free food… Any suggestions?
    Are there any common food companies that make soy free products?

  • Ok i eat 90% raw along with organic turkey and alot of WILD caught salmon which gives me soft skin. But i had noticed that I kept on getting little comedones filled with white gooey semi hard sebum. (Which is cholesterol from the fish) I also have a very sluggish liver, which i am in the process of cleansing. But as i researched because i do not eat grains or eggs i do not get enough LECETHIN in my to emulsify the fats that I am intaking and it is clogging my pores. I have read the lecithin helps unclog pores. I found a NON-GMO organic Soy lecithin powder to mix. I also have slight estrogen dominance due to my sluggish liver. BTW the liver is the filter for all excess hormones…..eg. ESTROGEN. I am wondering if anyone has any thoughts on non-gmo Soy lecithin. Also i read that it is the protein in Soy that causes the allergy not the fatty oil part.

  • Anne

    Hi, again. I forgot to say in regard to non-soy chocolate that there is a chocolate database on the web. Just search for “non-soy chocolate” or “chocolate without soy” and it will come up. It has nearly every brand on the plant and tells you which have no soy. It’s great.

    I am an omnivore, but have to say that soy isn’t the only protein available for vegetarians. There are so many beans and lentils and there is a small amount of protein in many other veggies. Just be sure to check your blood work regularly to see if your B12 and Vitamin D levels are normal. They need to be optimal. Thanks for all your posts.

  • Kylie

    i read this article and i was laughing, not in a bad way. its just because i’ve been allergic to this product my entire life. anything that has soy(a) i’m allergic too. so that counts about 98% of everyday products, except for fresh food. i have to read label that i see just to find something that i can eat or even use. it is a serious problem that the companies have to add something like this into everything that make.
    i have only found two types of chocolate that i can eat, and yet they were both taken off the supermarket shelves, for reasons of the product to not be popular. but the amount of people that i speak too, they want these products back the supermarkets wont listen. were i live the allergy to soy related products is bigger than most people think.
    i hate the fact when ever i go shopping that i have to read every label just so i can find something to eat. i cant go out and eat just anything. i usually have to take something to eat with me, when we do out through the day, and eating out at resturants i have to take a risk and hope that i dont end up in the bathroom for the rest of the night.

    i sent the link to this to some people, such as my mum, to show that this is something a little more serious.

    but thank you for opening up peoples eyes to this. and it should be made more aware that this is a real problem and that a huge percentage of the population is actually allergic to soy products, most people dont know they are.

  • Steve

    I also have been told I am allergic to Soy and Corn. By a process of elimination, I have traced the soy to soy Lecithin. And corn reaction happens with white corn. After reading these comments, I may be allergic to something in their processing. Or the pestisides. But to my embarrasment, which I do not tell anyone unless I have to, is what happens to me when I eat Soy Lecithin. It must have some intestinal problems that I do not detect but I have an outward situation that grosses everyone out, Hence the keeping quiet. And that is: my rectum bleeds. Blood vessels burst. If I have too much, It can be a bloody mess. The itching and burning it causes is unberable. So I have a more prominent reason to avoid it. I have to eat bread without the Lecithin. And everything else without it. Or I will know in 24-48 hours. Then it’s: What did I eat this time!!! Again, unpleasant to talk about, I use Corizone cream to releave some of the burning and itching after accidentally Ingesting Soy Lecithin.
    For me it is: “A Real Pain in the Butt…..”

  • Anne

    I am so glad that there is every increasing information on the negative aspects of soy. My husband and I were recently tested for allergies and food sensitivities. We were both shocked to say soy was identified in the highly sensitive category for both of us. I told the doctor that I hate soy except rarely in a good miso soup and occasionally I enjoy a good tempeh (rarely). Well, the testing technician said “you’re getting in your diet somewhere or it would not have shown up in the transdermal testing.” I checked and found it in four of my nutritional supplements; it’s in nearly every chocolate bar or chocolate source and we were eating a lot of it (cocoa, candy bars, desserts). Soy is estrogenic and goitrogenic (sp?). And, yes, it and corn have been genetically modified for over 30 years. Just try to find something non-GMO and organic. We are also sensitive to gluten; there’s another one. Most gluten-free breads taste just awful or are heavy as bricks. Check them out; soy, potato flour, cornstarch. I’m highly sensitive to potato and the corn is GMO unless otherwise specified. Udi’s is the tastiest GL bread but in an answered email they cannot certify that their ingredients are organic or non-GMO. So I’m back to eating GF crackers but I have to read the ingredients. Soy and corn are everywhere! You cannot convince many vegetarians about the dangers of soy. I even read/heard that the soy beans are toxic unless processed to remove the toxin before they are edible. Thank you all for your comments and information. Anne in Seattle

  • testy taster

    I had a severe traumatic brain injury a year and a half ago. I’m doing miraculously well, now. However, my tastes have changed. I taste soy lecithin. I tastes like awful burned chemicals. I no longer can eat anything with soy lecithin in it because it tastes and smells so dreadful. My neurologist dosen’t know what it’s about. Neither do I. I do know that I no longer eat a lot of desserts and processed foods. I wish I could find more information about all of this. I used to love chocolate.

  • knRN

    Interesting topic indeed! I am also a vegetarian that reads lables and questions many of the ingredients. But what people need to understand is that if you want the truth you have to do your own research…a drag I know. Go to PubMed and find out for yourself and stop taking hear-say from some website. And for godsake stop relying on Wikkipedia….it is not a reliable factual source. DOWN WITH GMO!!!!! haha

  • Vince

    Soy, is not good for you. It is toxic by nature, animals don’t even consume it unless man feeds it to them on farms and food manufacturing plants. I quit eating meat as a result, as well as for other health reasons. There is a reason that free range animals aren’t fed soy or corn (another non-food). Soy has been blamed for the short stature in many Asian peoples, as they have been consuming it for eons.
    The most damning aspect of soy, is that most of it is genetically modified by the food beast, Monsanto. Monsanto, virtually controls most of the soy purchased in the world. Soy’s phytoestrogen’s are attributable to erectile dysfunction in men, as well as homosexuality (Monsanto and pharmaceutical companies are in bed together, no pun intended). There is a reason to be concerned about its ubiquitous presence, it is no mere coincidence. Soy has been linked to liver and abdominal cancers, etc. I attempt to avoid it all cost, and make the same suggestion to all. This stuff should not be fed to kids, especially.
    Our government was aware of soy’s toxicity for many years before a marketing campaign was launched on the masses to tout phony health claims (Soy is a Billion dollar crop, so they will do anything to protect it’s production). The FDA and other government health agencies literally covered up this product’s dirty secrets. I say stick to what God brought us here with FRUITS (primary food source) and green leafy veggies (secondary). Grow your own if you can (before the law prevents that, which is being discussed), because they are tainting that also. It (fruit), in my opinion, is still the highest level of food (direct sunlight energy). Do your research on soy and Monsanto (they have their own police force to protect their evil). Watch Food, Inc.

  • I am grateful to find this post. I also am allergic to soy which I found out through a blood allergy test. Through a very thorough Dr. I also found out soy inhibits my thyroid function along with kelp and iodine foods. I find myself lethargic, sleepy and in pain. I also am intolerant/allergic to chemicals.

  • ek

    You fail to mention the harmful effects of soy isoflavones on thyroid. Soy isoflavones are potent inhibitor of TPO (thyroid peroxidase enzyme) which is required to produce T3 and T4 thyroid hormones. TPO is also the target enzyme that is mistakenly attacked by the immune system in a very common thyroid disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Reference: http://www.thyroid-info.com/articles/soydangers.htm

  • Samantha

    Pesticides are tough. They show up in even “healthy foods” so it’s hard to know how to avoid them. “Organic” can often be deceiving, as it’s not always regulated properly if it’s coming from foreign places, for example with the Whole Foods/China importing issue a while back.

    I just try to maintain my body by always flushing it out with the right detox juice and making sure that the foods I ear are as local as possible. Soy is always a mysterious so-called “food.” I say it’s better just to avoid it altogether, if possible. It’s hard though, because it is everywhere!


  • Peter

    In an odd twist, I have discovered a problem of my own in the going totally soy free diet.
    Not as a result of allergens, but because of fertility issues my wife and I both no longer intentionally consume any soy. We know there probably is some soy in our diet somewhere and know its level is probably inconsequential. However while we were consuming soy I had long noticed that my body felt as though it was falling apart. I am 42, and get moderate exercise and am within weight range. But I equate it to feeling like a Model T falling apart at the seams. My body felt very wore out.
    After stopping the soy, my body felt better and now feels whole and complete. However, I now feel like I am out of gas.

    I can only hypothesize, but I believe that the soy was probably supplying the missing protein from my diet that now shows itself in earnest. I am NOT a vegetarian but I do not eat large quantities of meat either. I had figured that various other sources of protein were available and it seems to help some, but I believe that this energy deficiency is due to the lack of nutrients in our food that is so prevalent today.

    Vitamin supplements are the norm now, but there I have to watch for soy products as well. This goes to show that the food stores in our society has truly suffered when our diets have become so saturated with soy, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and other evils that have lack of nutrition and we have become dependent on a supply of food which origins we do not know, rather than grow it ourselves.

    • sheri

      Have you had your thyroid function tested?

  • Shelley

    I don’t have an intolerence to Soy, I am allergic. Twelve months ago I had a skin allergy test done and found out I am allergic to it. Sometimes my stomache is so upset from it I end up in hospital on the drip. It is in so, so much processed food!

  • Ritchie

    I have eliminated soy from my diet as much as possible. As a vegetarian I was consuming a great deal of soy products and used to even eat stofu straight out of the package. During October of 2009 I unintentionally didn’t consume many soy products. I began to notice my complexion to clear up. So, I thought to myself if soy was involved in my acne breakouts. For the next 2 weeks I did not eat any soy products and my face stayed clear( even without the use of acne medication). One day after that 2 week period I ate some grilled tofu at a local deli and ate some of that grilled tofu again the following day. 2 days after my initial intake of tofu I had a mild ance breakout. I again stopped eating soy products for another 2 weeks and voila! my face cleared up. One day I was at a gas station and saw a bag of flamin’ hot cheetos and purchased a bag and ate it. Bad idea! Following day I broke out slightly. I went to a nearby store to read the ingredients in the flamin’ hot cheetos and to my suprise it contains soy.

    I believe there is a stong corelation between soy and acne. Most people say don’t eat chocolate beacause it will cause you to break out but I believe it’s the soy lecithin that is added to most chocolate products thats causes breakouts. I began to eat organic chocolate bars that contain no soy lecithin and my face has not broken out.

  • i’m allergic to soy but I do not know if it is just the soy bean or the lecithin how can I find out?

  • esme

    I have been on hormone replacement treatment for several years. I have recently stopped taking it. Is soya lecithin
    a good replacement for it?

  • joan

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estrogen_dominance – interestingly, this article says that soy lecithin in little amounts (1% in a non-dairy vegetarian chocolate? ) is less harmful than soy milk and other soy products – just read on the rest of this wiki article.

    I brought up the above link for discussion because I am curious as why many food products especially Chocolates contain soy lecithin. I wonder if it’s an important ingredient required to make our favourite chocolates.

    by the way, I personally like the taste of non-dairy chocolates more than the usual dairy ones – however, dark chocolates and non-dairy ones still contain soy lecithin. I am also curious to look out for information about chocolates without any soy ingredients (though I don’t really have an issue with soy lecithin in a very small amount). As my body possesses an intolerance to soy products (feeling fatigue after taking them), I rarely drink soya milk and even tofu etc. While I dislike eating white rice (it makes me tired digesting it), I discover from some sources that it isn’t very healthy since it has also been proven to increase our estrogen dominance.

  • A

    Hi there, nice post! I just wanted to make a comment about soy and phytoestrogens. These components of soy (primarily genistein) certainly bind to estrogen receptors in the body, however, their exact role is still unclear. It has been shown that low doses of genistein can increase growth of breast cancer cells, whereas high doses can inhibit its growth. It has also been shown to reduce the incidence of colon cancer, and reduce the incidence of cancer metastasis to the lung. There is also a lot of research out there showing that it may be beneficial in preventing coronary disease. More recently still, it was shown to decrease the risk of lung cancer associated with smoking. Clearly, there is still a lot we have to learn about soy as it relates to human health. Please be careful when you get all your information from one person who may have a pet theory. What I suspect is that Daniel Vitalis does not “do a lot of research on estrogen dominance”, but rather, he probably read some books or articles. I am pretty sure he is not a scientist who is doing real research in a lab; these researchers are not so ready to draw a lot of big conclusions about their findings on soy just yet.

    Also, I don’t think any experts ever said that the Japanese used to eat a ton of soy. What we do know is that Chinese and Japanese diets TODAY contain more soy than North American diets, and they have lower breast cancer rates. However, it is hard to directly relate these two facts because there are so many others that can account for their lower rates of breast cancer (genetics, other dietary factors, etc). I could not find any information anywhere about Japanese women feeding soy to feminize their husbands, and there is certainly nothing in the literature to suggest that this is a risk of eating soy.

    Soy is finding its way into our diets more and more as soy is a cheap filler for processed foods. I do not think this processed type of soy is healthy; you covered the plusses and minuses of soy lecithin nicely in your article. I do think that things like tofu, or especially fermented soy like tempeh or natto, are overall good for health. Highly processed soy, such as TVP, are probably not. You also covered the fact that a lot of soy is GMO, so look for non-GMO soy sources.

  • Soon to be Mrs. Z


    Thank you!

    and thank you for your response. I just think that if I continue to consume products with soy lecithin that is not organic that the GMO soy will build up in my system.

    So do you think just ensuring that the other soy products and soy byproducts (save the soy lecithin) is organic is okay enough?

    Also, sorry to ask again, but what do you do to ensure you have enough protein in your diet without consuming soy?

    Thank you!

  • Hi there and congrats on soon being Mrs Z!! Most health stores will stock organic soy products. As for organic soy lecithin, I’m not convinced you really need it in your diet.

  • Soon to Be Mrs. Z

    Hi Fran!

    Thank you for all of the information on soy lecithin. I am vegetarian as well and am trying to cut out soy from my diet – well, non-organic soy in any form. However, I am finding it very difficult to locate any products that contain organic soy and/or organic soy lecithin. Do you or anyone know any food products that can be purchased in the US that contain organic soy and/or soy lecithin? What do you eat instead of soy to ensure you are eating enough protein daily?

    Thank you!

  • Hi John, the definition of certified organic seems to vary from country to country, but yes – it appears that most often the rules state that only synthetic chemicals can’t be used. This doesn’t worry me too much because I take natural vitamins and supplements myself, so I’m sure organic and natural herbicides aren’t too bad. In fact, when I’m back at home I’m going to start researching more of this and even talking to organic farmers at my local market about it.

    There is one farmer in particular who is ridiculously healthy. I love to just wander around his stall listening to him speak to people because I’ve actually learned a lot from him! Like to eat all seeds in a piece of fruit (including apple cores), to try and find raw milk if you can, etc.

    As for the soy, I wish, wish, wish I could show you guys an audio I recently listening to within the Best Day Ever membership site. It was by Daniel Vitalis who’s been researching estrogen dominance and how massive a problem it’s become in the western world. He talked about how much estrogen pollution there is from plastics (especially flexible plastics), non-organic foods, the water we drink, and the food choices we make – particularly soy, flax and beer which are all VERY high in estrogen.

    Apparently there is so much estrogen within our environment already that most of us are already too overloaded. And it’s a myth that the Japanese used to eat a ton of soy (of course they ate a little of it) …if any Japanese can verify this one I’d love it – he said that Japanese women in ancient times when they found out their husband was cheating, they’d even start feeding them heaps of soy every day because they knew it would feminize them.

    And interestingly enough, some health food stores in the US are not stocking ANY soy products anymore (which is actually upsetting some of their customers) because they no longer think of it as a health food. So this in itself is worthy of delving deeper and doing a lot more research into this topic.

    I personally am trying to avoid soy now because I realize soy and estrogen are everywhere and in everything so I want to limit how much goes into my body.

    Thanks for your comment by the way, I love talking about this stuff. I could do it all day :)

  • John Reynolds

    Hello Fran, That was helpful, especially the bit about how lecithin is made in the degumming of soy oil, and the potential for pesticides and solvents to be in the lecitihin. I was also surprised about a year ago to find that Organic does not necessarily mean less/no pesticide. As Lizzy correctly said, there may end up being more (although I kind of hope it is not such a nasty type they use..) Organic should really be called Sustainable Farming. Having said that, I tend to buy organic. On soy products, I was wondering the basis for Jill’s assertion on phytoestrogen, which if correct might lead me to eating soy products again. Does anyone know the scientific evidence either way? The little research I have read put me off eating soy.

  • Hmm, organic food still with pesticides? This is definitely something I’ll be researching.

    • Colleen

      Have you done any personal research/made a blog about it at all? I’m also very curious about the validity of organics. We do spend much more with our very hopeful efforts after all!

  • lizzy

    i just wanted to add something to the organic vs non-organic soy. organic doesn’t mean there’s no pesticides, it just means that the pesticides used have been approved by the governing body (some of which are the same as those used in conventional farming). some organic farms have to actually spray MORE than conventionals because they have less options in terms of pesticides.

  • Ana

    I’ve seen this as an emulsifying ingredient in some natural facial cleansers as well.

  • Jill

    Interesting blog today. I’ve wondered as well what exactly soy lecithin was. That sucks that you’re allergic to soy! It is in a lot of things, but you can be a soy-free vegetarian! I wanted to comment on the whole soy-estrogen thing-I don’t want people to be confused and scared about soybeans because they are very healthy. You would have to eat a LOT of processed soy before there was anything to worry about-like eating a ton of soy veggie burgers, soy milk, soy yogurt, soy desserts and the like every. single. day. As a vegan, I’m lucky I can eat soy, but I also look for whole food natural and organic protein sources like beans, lentils, vegetables, chickpeas, grains, etc. Here in Canada, there are many soymilks etc that are organic and non-GMO which are not expensive at all.
    So, please boys, don’t think that eating soy foods will make you more feminine! Haha, that idea is actually out there so hence this comment!

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