Sunflower Lecithin vs. Soy Lecithin: Which Is the Winner?

Lecithin, a multifaceted compound, is a marvel in the world of natural substances due to its varied properties.

Its significance in manufacturing industries, from food to cosmetics, cannot be overstated. However, a current debate rages on “sunflower lecithin vs soy lecithin” – which holds the crown?

This post dives deep into this discussion, unraveling the mysteries behind each and determining the ultimate champion in the lecithin showdown.

What is Lecithin?

Lecithin is a unique substance found in numerous plants and animals, acting as a natural binder and moisturizer. It’s a blend of various components like phospholipids and triglycerides. These phospholipids are vital for cell health, ensuring everything runs smoothly inside.

You’ll find lecithin in many everyday items like chocolate, margarine, and even cosmetics. Plus, many people take it as a dietary supplement for heart, brain, and digestive benefits.

Think of an emulsifier as a peacekeeper. It makes sure things that don’t mix well, do. Lecithin’s ace at this, making it a go-to for foods that have both water and fat like margarine.

Lecithin also keeps foods stable. That’s why your chocolate doesn’t get weird crystals or your milk doesn’t split. In beauty products, ensure mixtures stay together.

Where’s lecithin from? A lot of places, actually. Sunflower seeds, soybeans, and even eggs to name a few. When shopping, you’ll likely bump into sunflower or soy lecithin the most.

What is Sunflower Lecithin?

Sunflower lecithin comes from sunflower seeds and is a blend of phospholipids, triglycerides, and glycolipids. These phospholipids make up cell membranes and have critical cellular roles.

You can get sunflower lecithin from seeds either mechanically or chemically. The mechanical way crushes the seeds, spinning out the lecithin from the oil. The chemical method uses solvents like hexane to pull out the lecithin.

The types of phospholipids in sunflower lecithin are:

  • Phosphatidylcholine
  • Phosphatidylinositol
  • Phosphatidylethanolamine
  • Phosphatidic acid

Benefits of Sunflower Lecithin

Sunflower lecithin boasts various health advantages:

It’s heart-friendly: Might reduce cholesterol and help manage blood pressure.

  • Boosts brainpower: It’s rich in choline, vital for the brain.
  • Promotes a happy gut: Could foster the growth of good bacteria.
  • Cuts down inflammation: It can calm inflammation in the body.
  • Improved skin health: Can moisturize and soothe the skin.

Though sunflower lecithin is typically safe, a few might face minor issues like nausea or an upset stomach.

What is Soy Lecithin?

Soy lecithin comes from soybeans and combines phospholipids, triglycerides, and glycolipids. These phospholipids are like the backbone of cell walls and are a big deal in many cell jobs.

Getting soy lecithin from soybeans can be a hands-on or chemically-charged affair. For the hands-on method, the beans are mashed, and a spinner separates the lecithin from the oil. If it’s chemically charged, solvents like hexane dive into action.

You can find soy lecithin in an array of things, such as:

  • Eatables: from chocolate to bread and pastries
  • Non-eatables: think cosmetics, medicines, and paints
  • Health supplements

Benefits of Soy Lecithin

This bean derivative packs some awesome perks:

While many can safely enjoy soy lecithin, a few might feel a bit queasy or have tummy troubles.

Sunflower Lecithin vs. Soy Lecithin: The Importance of Comparison

When producing foods and goods, top-notch ingredients are crucial. Lecithin, found in many items, demands that makers grasp its diverse sources to pick the best match.

Sunflower and soy lecithin stand out among lecithin types. Both are natural binders, yet they’re distinct in certain aspects.

Here’s why manufacturers weigh sunflower against soy lecithin:

To ensure the highest quality products: Sunflower might edge out soy for products requiring an allergy-free or neutral flavor profile.

To meet consumer needs: Some folks might be allergic to soy, so it’s key to opt for a universally safe lecithin. Plus, health buffs might lean towards sunflower lecithin.

To reduce costs: Soy lecithin might be easier on the wallet than its sunflower counterpart. Still, it’s wise to consider other ingredient costs and allergy-related product waste.

Recommended reading: Garlic Salt Vs. Garlic Powder

Difference Between Soy Lecithin and Sunflower Lecithin

Sunflower and soy-derived substances are prevalent forms of a natural compound often extracted from plant seeds, used to blend and moisten ingredients. These two sources share many traits but also have distinct characteristics.

Extraction Method

To get lecithin from soybeans, they undergo a “degumming” process. Here, solvents like hexane play a role in getting rid of oil and gum. From this gum, we extract the lecithin.

On the other hand, sunflower seeds are put through a cold-press method. This involves crushing the seeds and separating the lecithin with a centrifuge. It’s more of a natural process since there aren’t any chemicals involved.


Since soy lecithin is a by-product of producing soybean oil, soy lecithin is easy on the wallet.

Sunflower lecithin is not a by-product, and cold pressing ain’t cheap. That’s why sunflower lecithin might lighten your pocket more than its soy counterpart.


People with soy allergies might want to steer clear, as soy lecithin can lead to issues like itching and hives.

Sunflower counterpart is, generally, a safer bet for those with soy allergies, without the usual allergic reactions. It’s also considered a non-GMO product entirely.


Soy Lecithin, being a water-lover, or “hydrophilic”, is a magnet for moisture. So, it’s best to keep it cool and dry.

Sunflower Lecithin is not as thirsty for water as soy lecithinand can sit pretty for up to two years after you’ve popped it open. Still, a cool, dry spot is ideal.

The Look and Taste

The soy one sports a yellowish-brown hue, and this one’s got a thick texture to it.

Sunflower lecithin has colors ranging from dark amber to brown and a slightly lighter feel. It boasts more phosphatidylcholine than the soy version.

Impact on Hormones

Soy lecithin carries phytoestrogens, which can act like body estrogen. So, if you’ve got conditions sensitive to hormones, like breast cancer, you might want to think twice.

Sunflower lecithin has no phytoestrogens. Making it a safer pick for those with hormone-linked concerns.

Other Differences

Sunflower lecithin is chock-full of choline, which is great for brain and liver health.

Soy lecithin’s got choline too, but also has phytic acid, which might play spoilsport by meddling with mineral absorption, like iron and zinc.

CharacteristicSoy LecithinSunflower Lecithin
SourceSoybeansSunflower seeds
Extraction processChemical solvents (e.g., acetone, hexane)Cold pressing
Phospholipid contentLowerHigher
Choline contentLowerHigher
AllergenicityCommon allergenRare allergen
TasteMild, nutty flavorBland flavor
ColorLight yellow to brownWhite to light yellow
Melting pointLowerHigher
Shelf lifeShorterLonger
CostLess expensiveMore expensive

Similarities Between Soy and Sunflower Lecithin

Sunflower lecithin and soy lecithin are popular plant-based emulsifiers derived from seeds. They share several characteristics:

  • Similar uses: Both can be found in various foods and products like chocolate, margarine, ice cream, and even non-food items such as cosmetics and paint.
  • Vegan-friendly: They’re both plant-derived, making them a hit for vegan diets and products.
  • Other shared traits: Nutritionally, they offer choline, key fa or brain and liver health. Also, they’re believed to boost heart, brain, gut, and skin health.

Remember, whether it’s soy or sunflower, both types of lecithin provide similar benefits and versatility.

Recommended reading: Glucomannan For Weight Loss Efficacy

Sunflower vs Soy Lecithin Side Effects

Most people can safely enjoy both sunflower lecithin and soy lecithin. Nonetheless, there’s always a chance for a few to face regular hiccups like feeling queasy, throwing up, or dealing with an upset stomach, especially if they go overboard with the amount.

It’s a bit of a rare sight, but allergic reactions and certain medicine clashes can pop up with both these types. If you’re someone who doesn’t get along well with soy, steer clear of soy lecithin. And, if you’re popping some pills, best to have a to chat with your doctor before diving into sunflower lecithin or its soy counterpart.

A few users might find sunflower lecithin makes them drool a bit more, gives them tummy trouble, or even a headache. On the other hand, soy lecithin might make some feel bloated, a bit gassy, or even cause skin issues for a rare few.

Recommended reading: Biopharmaceutical Vs. Pharmaceutical

Is Sunflower Lecithin Better Than Soy Lecithin?

Soybeans are among the top genetically altered crops, and their lecithin is often drawn out using chemicals like hexane. In contrast, sunflower lecithin is usually derived through a natural cold-press process.

Sunflower lecithin is viewed by many as a healthier and more natural emulsifier compared to its soy counterpart.

When choosing between the two, here’s the lowdown:

  • Price: Soy lecithin usually comes with a friendlier price tag.
  • Allergy factors: Soy can trigger allergies, but sunflower lecithin is usually in the clear.
  • Natural extraction: Sunflower lecithin wins with its natural cold-press extraction.
  • Nutritional value: Both pack a punch with choline, great for your brain and liver.
  • Health benefits: Both offer a range of health perks, from heart to skin health.
  • Side effects: Generally, both are safe to eat, but a few might face minor issues like nausea or diarrhea.

On a tight budget? Soy lecithin might be up your alley. However, don’t forget to weigh on ther factors before you dive in.

Which Lecithin Should You Choose?

Picking between sunflower and soy lecithin? Well, it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Think about what you truly need.

Points to consider:

  • Bioavailability: Sunflower lecithin gets absorbed by the body a tad easier.
  • Concentration of phospholipids: Sunflower lecithin tops in phospholipids – they’re key for cell health.
  • Availability and cost: Soy lecithin wins in being easy to find and easier on the pocket.
  • Allergens: Soy might get sneezy for some, but sunflower lecithin is usually cool.


  • Want something your body loves that’s packed with phospholipids? Go sunflower.
  • If it’s about saving some bucks and easy finds, soy’s your guy.
  • Allergic to soy? Sunflower’s the word.

When it comes to the best lecithin, it’s all about what ticks your boxes. What works for one might not for another. Listen to your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is sunflower lecithin keto friendly?

Certainly, sunflower lecithin aligns well with keto guidelines. It contains minimal carbohydrates, an abundant fat content, and provides key elements such as choline which benefits cognitive and hepatic functions. A single tablespoon carries virtually zero carbs with a fat content of approximately 14 grams.

Is sunflower lecithin the same as sunflower oil?

No, they're different. Sunflower lecithin helps mix oil and water. Sunflower oil is made from pressed sunflower seeds and used for cooking.

Is sunflower lecithin a seed oil?

No, it's not a seed oil. Sunflower lecithin is a component extracted from sunflower seeds when getting the oil.

Does lecithin go bad?

Lecithin can deteriorate over time, especially if exposed to moisture or heat. While generally stable, oxidation can make it rancid, affecting its flavor.

Does sunflower lecithin cause gas?

For some people, yes, especially in large amounts. Sunflower lecithin breaks down fats, which might release gases in your stomach.

Is sunflower lecithin vegan?

Yes, sunflower lecithin comes from sunflower seeds and is a vegan-friendly substitute to soy lecithin and egg yolks.

How much sunflower lecithin to use for emulsifier?

Lecithin to use for emulsifier is approximately:
• Salad dressings: 1-2 teaspoons/cup of oil
• Baked goods: 1-2 tablespoons/cup of flour
• Ice cream: 1-2 tablespoons/gallon
• Mayonnaise: 1-2 tablespoons/cup of oil.

Can I eat sunflower lecithin if allergic to sunflower seeds?

If you have a sunflower seed allergy, it varies. Some can handle sunflower lecithin, but others might react. Always check with your doctor before trying.

What is sunflower lecithin used for in food?

Sunflower lecithin:
• Keeps baked goods moist; great for vegan treats.
• Enhances texture and longevity in candies and chocolates.
• Stabilizes sauces and dressings, stopping separation.
• Boosts texture in vegan milk, cheese, and ice creams.
• Offered as a supplement; rich in choline for brain and liver health.

Final Thoughts

Sunflower lecithin and soy lecithin stand as noteworthy natural emulsifiers prevalent in both food and industrial realms.

Each possesses its unique set of merits and drawbacks. For instance, while sunflower lecithin boasts a higher bioavailability and phospholipid content, its steeper price can be a deterrent. On the flip side, soy lecithin, being more affordable and ubiquitous, is shadowed by its allergenic concerns.

Manufacturers must weigh elements like target audience, product aesthetics, and budget to determine the ideal choice.

For consumers, considerations pivot around dietary needs, potential allergies, and sought-after health perks.

Regardless of your choice, prioritize sourcing lecithin from trustworthy suppliers to guarantee its quality and safety.

Read next: Chia Seeds vs Poppy Seeds


  1. National Library of Medicines, Lecithin.
  2. Health Encyclopaedia, Rochester Medical Center, Lecithin.
  3. Cholesterol, PubMed Central, Amouni Mohamed Mourad, et al., Influence of Soy Lecithin Administration on Hypercholesterolemia.